It’s Time To Change Job Descriptions for Executives and Directors

It’s the only way to reverse the unsettling trend

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

According to a Bloomburg report released in 2019, ethical lapses were the number one reason CEO’s were fired last year.

“A record 18% of chief executive officers were replaced last year, with more top executives forced out for ethical lapses than were fired for poor performance or disagreements with their boards, according to a PwC study...”

When I was a cadet at West Point, General Schwartzkopf’s address to the Corps of Cadets was required reading. In his talk, he lays out two things a leader must have: competence and character.

From my experience in the Army, in non-profit, and now in tech, I would add a third requirement — emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent leaders are empathetic, they’re good listeners, they’re self aware, and they communicate their feelings.

If you look at the lowest scores on many company surveys, you can tie many of the low scores not to a lack of competence from a leader, but to a lack of character and emotional intelligence. This has been true of every organization I’ve been a part of.

Why then, for leaders of companies, do we often continue to have job descriptions where most of the requirements are related to competence?

And most of the time, for CEOs and other leaders, the job descriptions have very few requirements around character and emotional intelligence?

What would it look like if we made job descriptions, especially for Executives and Directors, more about character and emotional intelligence and less about competence?

Until we do so, we’ll continue to have companies run by people like Adam Neumann, Steph Korey, Travis Kalineck, and Parker Conrad.

Andrew lives and works in San Francisco. He writes about mental health, finances, and relationships. You can usually find him running in Golden Gate Park, biking in the Marin Headlands, or off on an adventure with his amazing wife.

Dad. Husband. Army vet. Enjoy running, cycling, cooking, & guitar. Sign up for my monthly humor newsletter:

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