Here’s How to Screen Prospective Leaders for Risky Behaviors

by Steve Mundahl

The numbers of fallen leaders in sports, business, entertainment, and politics grows each day. Why do so many influential leaders engage in risky behavior that sends them plummeting from positions of power?

Consider the cases of NYC mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, and hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. Some candidates barely make it out the gate (Herman Cain) before they become “disqualified.”

As employment professionals, we may ask: “How can we develop a more failsafe way to weed out leaders who may have risky, impulsive, addictive, and possibly immoral lifestyles? Do we have a role in directing them toward the help they need?”

Here are three guidelines that will help:

1. Watch for the truth about the person to reveal itself during the interview process.

Who doesn’t have a secret? Perhaps we have small secrets that are not deal-breakers. For example, we tend toward micro-managing, or we have impulsive anger that can get triggered in certain rare situations. Other times, the secrets are bigger: We are an alcoholic who occasionally binges at work functions. We have serial affairs and consider it one of the perks of our position. We love the dopamine high of gambling, and use this to unwind from work stress. We have never recovered from our own childhood abuse, and we secretly carry on a compulsive sexual addiction.

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