Part II: Shake Up Organizational Leadership
Back in August 2019, I encouraged board of directors to have the courage to shake up the status quo and hire an organizational leader who would be a bold, capable – albeit non traditional – choice. I specifically talked about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who would have been the first woman and non-American head of the World Bank. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala was passed up for the position for a more traditional choice, David Malpass.
I am happy to report that, in 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been chosen to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has the responsibility of ensuring that international trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. The WTO can settle disputes and reduce trade tensions, cut the cost of doing business internationally, and stimulate economic growth. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the first African and first Woman to head the WTO. While it is exciting to see Dr. Okonjo-Iweala make history in 2021, it is troubling that she has been asked to lead an organization that is currently in disarray. Specifically, the WTO has been criticized for its lack of intervention in economic offenses of China and the United States. Too often, an organization will hire a person of color or a woman when an organization is beleaguered – creating a sink or swim environment for the marginalized person to fix the mess. Organizations should be encouraged to hire a person of color or woman when the organization is at its height, not only when it’s at its lowest.
What does this mean for your organization’s leadership? As you look to replace your former leader, look to untraditional candidates. Look to candidates who will bring new life and perspective to your organization. Look for candidates of color and female candidates not only when the organization is in trouble, but also when everything is going well. Bringing in nontraditional talent may be the energy your organization needs to reach the next level of success.
For more information on board governance and board diversity, follow along on Twitter or Instagram. Nikki McCord is the founder of McCord Consulting Group, the only choice for organizations looking to energize, innovate, and diversify their Board of Directors.