Do you ever find yourself wondering how so many good companies can make so many bad hires? The fact is, all the rigorous and sophisticated hiring processes employed by the best companies in the world don’t prevent this issue. The good news is, addressing one single factor can easily prevent bad hires.

The #1 reason companies make bad hires is they compromise, they settle, they don’t hire the best person for the job.

Compromise has its place in business, but it has no role in the acquisition of talent.  Leaders too often focus on the “nice to haves” instead of the “must-haves” when it comes to executive search. They allow themselves to be distracted by disparate, insignificant factors, rather than holding out for the best person for the job.

My definition of irony: when leaders complain about their talent. I’ve always believed leaders deserve the teams they build. Here’s the thing – when leaders make a bad hire they have no one to blame but themselves. The problem is many leaders place the blame everywhere but where it belongs.

It doesn’t matter whether the candidate has great potential, what diversity segment they represent, if they’re an internal or external candidate, whether or not they have industry experience, or where they earned their degree. What matters is whether they are the BEST person for the job. Smart leaders don’t “give” someone the job because they’ve been with the company longer – they select the best person for the job regardless of how long they’ve been with the company.

How many times have you witnessed a company lose its preferred candidate over a trivial point of difference, and then have the company only proceed to compound their problem by settling for their second or even third choice? Smart leaders understand an open position is preferable to filling a position with the wrong candidate.

There is truth in the old axiom “talent begets talent.” Talent is a contagion. It’s the talent that fuels creativity, collaboration, momentum, velocity, client loyalty, a dynamic corporate culture, and virtually every other positive influencing force in the corporate universe. It’s the talent that designs sound business practices, develops strategic plans, understands the value of innovation, overcomes obstacles, breaks down barriers, creates growth, and builds a lasting brand. Smart leaders hire only the best person for the job. They don’t compromise on talent.

Good enough rarely is, and just checking the box is not the business of leadership. While it’s required to evaluate hard skills, track record, leadership ability, cultural fit, and any number of other criteria, it’s completely irresponsible to settle for anything less than the best person for the job. Don’t allow yourself to be bounded by time frames, compensation guidelines, or pressure from individuals or key constituencies – hold out for the best person, and when you find them, move heaven and earth to hire them.

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