Imagine This…Corporate Cloning

December 5, 2012 — 3 Comments

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Slide1Imagine this…

You are interviewing for a critical position within your organization that will report directly to you.  You have worked with HR and your senior team to narrow the field to two final candidates.

 The first candidate has the ideal background and credentials for the position you need to fill. In fact, this candidate is highly qualified and everyone throughout the interview process has really felt she would be the right choice for the position. Obvious skills aside, you just don’t feel the connection – this is not someone you would be comfortable going to coffee with…

 The second candidate does not have the exact background and skillsets you are looking for, but you can really see yourself in this ambitious go-getter. He has a lot of the same strengths you perceive in yourself and you would really like to mentor this person to succeed within the organization, as you have been. Others, throughout the interview process, have noted a slight skill deficit and the potential for not being able to keep up with the position.

 Although the qualifications of the two candidates are not equal, you have a strong disposition toward candidate number 2…

 What will you do?

 One of the most basic themes in ethics is fairness. When someone is hired (or granted a promotion) because s/he is a “clone” rather than because of having the best credentials and experience, it is perceived as unfair and counterproductive to the organization. At best, there is a significant decline in employee morale as a result of the realization that competency and experience do not earn equal treatment. There may even be a significant degradation of the work product, missed deadlines and/or failed projects that result from hiring the less qualified individual.

When you consider making a job offer, it’s tempting to offer the job to the candidate who is most like you. It may feel as if you are hiring an old friend, but beware of this dangerous inclination. If you tend to hire (or promote) people like yourself, instead of the most qualified candidate, you are not only engaging in questionable ethics – you are watering down the gene pool of your organization.

Complimentary, but different, skillsets (and personalities) are essential for business’ to grow, develop and evolve. If you’re an energetic idea generator but not good with details, hiring people with similar characteristics to yourself will doom you to failure. You need to hire the most qualified candidates with the best capacity to fill the knowledge gaps in the organization.

Always look for the most qualified candidate that has supporting strengths… not clones. Every new addition to your organization should strengthen and broaden organizational capabilities. Similar thinking and leadership styles do little to drive creative solutions or innovation. As a leader, you should want someone who is unlike you and has strengths that you don’t have. Someone with a different worldview or skillset can bring a fresh perspective and unforeseen innovation to your organization.

Hiring an employee because they are like you is unethical and equivalent to cheating the organization, not to mention costly. On the other hand, hiring the employee who has the best qualifications and skillsets, along with the capacity to fill existing knowledge gaps, pays handsomely in employee productivity and the positive impact on your total work environment.

For the next couple of weeks, we will be discussing ethics in business. I would love for you to engage the discussion and let us know what you would do or tell us about unique experiences that you have had that called ethics to the front and center. Please feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.

Please note: The names of both the guilty and the innocent have been omitted for the protection of all.


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Sheri is The Global Coach, founder of Luminosity Global Consulting Group, Global Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Global Business and Cultural Expert.

3 responses to Imagine This…Corporate Cloning

  1. I’d hire a person that fits in with the corporate culture or identity and that will be productive not my clone.

  2. One thing I have done to avoid bias with my team is use the VIA Character Strengths Survey and the Strengthfinder surveys to assess the team’s strengths as a whole and identify gaps that might make sense for us to fill.

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