One of the most important things a leader can do is staff their department to deliver. A leader's job is not to know it all. A leader without anyone on their staff who can design a recruitment strategy better than they can or who is better at [fill in the blank] than they are, is not doing their job.
More telling than seeing who a leader selects for a position is taking a look at who they did not.
It's comfortable, and easy, for leaders to select people like themselves or like others on their staff. It's not a stretch for a leader to evaluate a candidate's skills against need, traits against culture, and like-ability against team dynamics. Nor is it a stretch to consider experience and accomplishments to predict (re: crystal ball) contribution and initiative.
The interview, evidence of performance, references, and yes, even instinct, indicate to the leader that there is one person for the job. It all fits except for one thing and this is the one thing could make the difference between a solid selection and an exceptional one. For some leaders, herein lies the stretch.
Once the skills and culture fit boxes are checked and it's time for a leader to make a decision, the questions begin to flow (admit it, you've thought it too): can I manage this person who is older/younger than me, will they test or stretch my leadership skills, what if . . . he has ideas I hadn't thought of, she wants my job (and she'd be good at it too), he'll fill in a much needed gap and people will realize that I had not, she'll raise the bar and others will be threatened, or [fill in the blank].
These questions have absolutely nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with the leader.
It's a fact. We are human, we get pushed out of our comfort zone and we feel threatened. Take it from someone who succumbed to the madness, let the good ones get away, and has lived to tell about it. Acknowledge the discomfort but don't let it drive your decision making process. Some of my best staffing decisions were made from outside my comfort zone.
How about you?
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