September 3, 2008

What Experience Most Matters?


If you can look at political campaigns dispassionately (I know, next to impossible for folks of just about any political persuasion), they raise an interesting question for both individuals and organizations:  what experience most matters?

Thoughtful consideration of this question is a necessary task for individuals as they seek to prepare themselves for professional and volunteer positions or consider possible opportunities and for employers and nominating committees seeking new hires or volunteers.

  • Is being CEO of a small organization better than being a mid-manager in a larger organization?
  • How similar does the context of an individual's experience need to be compared to the context of the position in play?  
  • When hiring, how do you evaluate someone whose most significant experience might come from a volunteer position, even if it is one of significant scale and scope?
  • What are the timeless qualifications always needed and what are the timely skill sets needed now because of the current environment?
  • What can be learned on the job and what are non-negotiable prerequisites?

I think we are all better served by first spending more time thinking about the environment in which we operate, the results we need to achieve, and the skills and temperament needed to produce those results. Doing so might just help us make better choices.

1 comment:

Kerry Stackpole, CAE said...

Jeffrey, as usual you hit upon a key leadership concept. What's fascinating about this topic is the realization that most people overvalue their own experience and under estimate the challenges they are actually likely to face serving on a committee, being a CEO, or taking on a new position. If experience is derived from decision-making--both good and bad--then thoughtful assessment of one's decisions play a critical role in improving outcomes and by extension what experience matters.