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What if co-workers were hired the same way presidents are picked?

Posted: February 23, 2016 3:09 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2016 3:09 a.m.
Steve Eaton/

This year’s election cycle has reminded me how far out of sync I must be. It makes me wonder if people would seek out the same qualities if they were tasked with selecting new co-workers.

This year’s election cycle has reminded me how far out of sync I must be with what “Americans” think is important when it comes to picking their leaders. It makes me wonder if people would seek out the same qualities if they were tasked with selecting new co-workers.

How would the conversation go in the conference room?

“Listen, we’ve hired some pretty bland co-workers recently, we need some people who are going to shake things up,” Doris says.

“Yeah, we need someone who knows how to insult!” Summer would reply.

“More than that,” Bud would chime in, “we need a person who can convince management to give us more stuff. They get more money, perks and benefits than we do. We need a revolution. We need to channel more profits to the workers so the company can make more money.”

“I disagree with that to some extent,” Dave would say. “If we remove constraints on the company, let us pollute a little when we need to and stop dealing with all those silly safety regulations, then our leaders will get rich and make us rich. We need more exotic retreat locations where our executives can go to lead.”

“Most importantly we need someone who has never changed their mind and is never wrong,” Summer would say. “Only that kind of person can bring people together and help us work as a team to make this company great again. We need people with extreme views who are never wrong. Someone who feels no need to back up what they say with boring facts.”

“Let’s have the interview participants fight each other to see who wins,” Ted would finally interject.

“Yes, a debate!” Dave says with enthusiasm. “That way we can find out who will argue over anything and who is willing to stretch the truth to make a point. If we could get more people in this company who feel the ends justify the means, that would be awesome.”

“No, I mean a real fight,” Ted would say.

“We do not need someone who is always about demonstrating strength; this is the time to pick someone who can talk bold,” Summer would counter. “We need someone who knows how to tell it like it is, you stupid cow, Ted.”

“I like that Summer,“ Bud would say slowly like he just discovered a way to rob a bank without being caught. “I think you have real leadership qualities, Summer. Someone like that will stand up to management and promise us whatever we want to hear. Maybe we should make you CEO. I need a jet ski.”

And on and on it would go. If I was in that meeting, someone would load me into a truck and send me off to the border in no time. I’d want to hire a smart, competent person who I could reason with, someone with a sense of humor and someone who actually changes their mind from time to time when presented with compelling evidence. If I wanted to find the perfect co-worker, I wouldn’t use a debate to filter out all the candidates who weren’t rude and abrasive.

What would happen if there was a candidate who refused to do negative campaigning and only entered the debates if she thought she could unify the party and help them find real innovative solutions? What if one candidate took notes and asked clarifying questions of the other candidates when his turn came up? What if he or she appeared to listen and modified his or her views when someone made a good point?

I have to think he would be labeled “weak” and “unprincipled.” They would say she wouldn’t know how to make the tough calls, to torture when necessary and how to just plain drive undesirables to the border and throw them over the wall. Certainly a note-taking, listening candidate is not going to go out there and make the billionaires give us their money so that we don’t have to pay for stuff that we have coming to us anyway.

Yeah, I’m out of synch. Good thing I have a job where I work with people who don’t believe in acting presidential at work. At least, so far, no one has called me a stupid cow. I think where I work is great. But then, I must just be out of synch with what it takes to truly succeed today and get free stuff for people who deserve it.

Thank goodness.

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