Betsy DeVos: How Will Her (Lack Of) Experience Impact Her Performance?
Politics aside, what examples have you seen personally of someone with no experience tackling a new environment, company or industry?
Whether or not you’ve seen it in your personal life, we’re all witness to this type of scenario playing out at one of the highest levels of government.
Betsy Devos, a Republican billionaire, fund-raiser and philanthropist, has been one of the most controversial presidential cabinet position confirmations in recent history as she waited to be confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Trump.
DeVos has been criticized for her minimal experience with the public school system, and potential conflicts of interest due to her vast business ties as well as her and her family’s contributions to Republican Senators who would be voting on her confirmation. To show how contentious and concerning her confirmation process has been, consider that some Republican Senators even broke with their party to vote against DeVos’s confirmation.
“How well can someone jump from one environment to another while maintaining their effectiveness?”
As cynical as some people have been of Mrs. DeVos, and regardless of what’s happened in the confirmation hearing and process, most people, regardless of party, would generally want to see members of the cabinet succeed as it obviously impacts the well-being of the country.
So now we look ahead.
What does it mean when someone has limited experience in a field but has a department full of specialists and resources at their disposal much like DeVos has with the U.S. Department of Education?
To be fair, as has been said before, leadership is not about the leader or person themselves having all of the knowledge and experience required. A true leader is one who can harness and utilize the resources around them. How well can someone jump from one environment to another while maintaining their effectiveness?
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So what will DeVos be able to make happen with the resources and the staff at the U.S Department of Education behind her?
“…leadership is not about the leader or person themselves having all of the knowledge and experience required. A true leader is one who can harness and utilize the resources around them.”
For leaders in this same type of situation, what would it take for them to be successful? Will they listen? Will they learn? Will they keep an open mind?
Aside from what DeVos’s political agenda might be in this case and taking politics out of any situation where this type of transition might occur, what are the various examples in your own experience which parallel how this story is about to begin unfolding – someone put in a high position without the usual requisite experience?
Can someone come from a different field, continue and build a mission or organization with the general knowledge they have or only stagnate and devastate the agency or entity due to a lack of specific experience?
So…What About You?
- Have you been in situations where someone was brought into a position of leadership without that minimum level of experience? How did it work out?
- For those situations that did work out, how did the leader approach the position and consider the resources at their disposal? Did they change the environment at all for the better?
- For those situations that did not work out, why did they not work out? How did they approach the environment and the resources?