“The Unusual Hire” is a recent piece by Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers, concerning the Cleveland Browns hiring of Paul DePodesta, of the New York Mets, as the Chief Strategy Officer (see article: The Unusual Hire – Sports Illustrated – 1-18-16 – L. Jon Wertheim )
The premise is that franchises usually don’t think outside the box when hiring coaches and upper management.
Why? Wertheim and Sommers believe that “conformity feels safer. Stick within the parameters of generally expected behavior, and the consequences of falling short are mitigated.”
Basically, if owner’s/administrators hire the safe person, they don’t risk as much professionally and personally. The “CYB” (Cover Your Butt) leadership style, allows so-called leaders to say “they looked good on paper,” “they were an alumni, I figured they could get everyone on board,” and “they came highly recommended from a good friend.” They essentially have built in excuses and can retain their job in the process.
These are all convenient (and maybe lazy) but surely safe reasons for hiring a candidate. None of these practices however, ensure future success or mean the candidate selected was actually the best fit or most qualified.
I know as a young head coach, I regularly scratched my head when recycled coaches had the benefit of earning their 3rd or 4th jobs with only marginal records and I could barely eek out an interview despite my resume. It can be a very disheartening and frustrating experience for coaches and drives many of them away from pursuing their career goals.
Maybe hires like DePodesta, if successful, will spark some renewed creativity in the interview/hiring process, where hires are based solely on merit and leadership skills.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo