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Monday, April 02, 2007

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Let's say you're conducting an interview--perhaps just a phone screen at this point--for someone for a senior position. A very senior position. Let's just say the conversation goes something like this:

Recruiter: Tell me about how you make decisions.
Candidate: Well, I gather the facts and then I go home and talk it over with my wife. She's my top advisor.
Recruiter: Excuse me, but can you elaborate on that?
Candidate: I also invite her to my executive team meetings.
Recruiter: Is your wife also a [insert profession]?
Candidate: No, she's [something irrelevant]. But I trust her judgment.
Recruiter: Thank you so much for your time, we'll be in touch. Click.

Right? Wouldn't you immediately label such a candidate as "whacky"? Who does that? I mean, really.

A good spouse can help you in your career--no doubt about that. But, even the most supportive and brilliant spouses shouldn't be brought into your executive team meetings unless it's a family owned business.

So, why do we put up with the "bringing in the spouse" in politics? Rudy Giuliani said he'd do it.
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told ABC News's Barbara Walters that he would welcome his wife, Judith, at White House Cabinet meetings and other policy discussions if he were elected president next year.

"If she wanted to," Giuliani said in the "20/20" interview to be broadcast tonight. "If they were relevant to something that she was interested in. I mean that would be something that I'd be very, very comfortable with."

We wouldn't put up with that in business, why do we put up with it in politics? Would Giuliani have been slammed if he'd said, "My wife is a wonderful person, but I'm running for office and I will be the one responsible to the people, not my wife."

I'll grant you that a good spouse can do wonders for you career. You want to move up in the company? You'll do better if your spouse is willing to relocate with you. What about late nights? If your spouse is the primary caregiver for the children, you'll have more options. But, invite your spouse to an executive team meeting? Not unless that is where you met--and most companies have rules against such behavior.

(Hat Tip Ann Althouse.)


Wally Bock said...

Rudy's did a marvelous job on 9/11 and in the days following. He gets points for that. Beyond that though there were question marks way before he sat down with Barbara Walters and suggested that he'd invite his wife to cabinet meetings.

This is a guy who apparently fired one of the best Police Commissioners in NYC history, Bill Bratton, because Bratton made the cover of Time. He selected Bernie Kerik for the job even though he'd been briefed about possible mob ties. And let's not forget that Rudy announced he was getting his second divorce at a news conference, before he informed his wife. If you saw him on 9/11 or read his book, he looks good. But if you look at who he surrounds himself with an how he deals with people, you really have to wonder about his judgement in people things.

Evil HR Lady said...

Rudy's got some judgment issues, absolutely, but so do most of the other candidates.

Rudy's not the only one who wants to or has put his wife in a position of authority.

I'm of the opinion that the First Lady (or First Man, should that occur) should follow the counsel given to the mothers of grooms--shut up and wear beige.

I'm willing to compromise on the beige.

King Billy's concubine said...

You know where your comparison gpes wrong, don't you? There are no qualification requirements to go into politics, so why shouldn't a spouse be invited to the meetings, as s/he is most likely equally qualified. Bet the electorate would have a problem with an unelected decision maker, though.

Anonymous said...

I still haven't gotten over the screening interview ... whoa! Who admits those kinds of things?

BTW - I've just completed a long, drawn-out project which only became long and drawn-out because the CEO designated his wife as "chief decision maker" regarding this issue.

The result? It's terrible. Everyone agrees, but no one can say that. And it took thousands more $ and six months longer than it should have.

I completely agree with you (except about the beige part).

Jon said...

As a counterpoint, isn't there some sort of tradition that when a senator dies in his/her term, the spouse can fill the seat? That would suggest some sort of validity in having your spouse counsel you.

Besides, don't they say to never mix business and politics? =)


First Year said...

I think the difference between business and politics is what is expected of the wives (or husbands). In business I feel a spouses "job" or role in the work situation is to accompany the spouse to work related social events, to pitch in at home when travel is needed, will let them vent their frustrations, listen to office gossip and so on.

In politics it always seems as though the spouse is expected to be "involved" as in supporting causes, speaking in public, and that type of thing. People who want to vote for an ultra conservative politican care if a candidate has a wife that is so stongly pro-choice that she encourages every pregnant women to get an abortion (waaaay out there example just for illustration).

Do I think it's right? No, definetly not. I think the person hired or chosen for a role needs to fill it with minimal interference from a spouse unless the spouse is also intimately involved with the role (family business, etc).