Executives from the “Outside” Can Provide a Jolt of Caffeine


By Michelle Lee

The traditional career path – moving up the organizational ladder in a specific function within a single industry – is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today’s most successful leaders tend to come from various educational backgrounds and their career paths weave through many industries and functional areas, positioning them to take on the constant changes in today’s competitive environment.

Michelle Lee

Industry “outsiders” are often just what an organization needs to thrive in ever-changing times. The practice of hiring executives from outside has even been referred to as caffeine for a leadership team.

I recently wrote about this trend in Hiring Outsiders: The Caffeinated Choice? for Training Magazine. Among the benefits that outsiders bring to an organization include:

  1. The ability to move beyond the status quo. Outsiders have no ties to the status quo, so they feel free to draw on their own diverse experiences to drive change.
  1. Fresh perspective and ideas. Outsiders are willing to consider new, and innovative, solutions to challenges.
  1. An expanded network. Leaders from outside bring new contacts and broaden an organization’s talent and resource pool.
  1. A culture of innovation. Outsiders challenge current mindsets, and in doing so, create a more stimulating environment for problem-solving.

No doubt it takes extra effort to hire and assimilate outsiders, but the effort can pay off by providing the jolt of caffeine that stimulates new enthusiasm, innovation, and creativity in an organization.

Michelle Lee is a consultant in Witt/Kieffer’s Healthcare practice.

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