How to Lead in 2019 – Hire for Depth, Hire a Humanities Grad
2017 – 2018 were eventful years. The rise of populism in the US, Europe, and many other major economies throughout the world has generated much anxiety in the established media and political class. It is difficult to determine the long term economic effects that this change will have on business. So what are hiring managers in the corporate and not-for-profit worlds to do?
Good management starts with great hires – Skills can be taught, wisdom cannot.
As a hiring manager, be it on the front lines or in the c-suite, do not fall into the trap of hiring the hottest job profile on the market. Now is not the time to hire someone who can punch out a great spreadsheet. You need to hire someone who can provide both technical output as well as provide a deeper analysis of the long-term impact of those spreadsheets or procedural documents. Having the ability to see why a leader has asked for an analysis, looking at the reasons behind a request and the impact of the analysis into the future, will be of greater value than a technical answer to what was being asked. Humanities grads have the ability to provide that depth of knowledge. You can always send a member of your team for training on “hard” skills. Hiring a candidate with great “soft” skills will provide your team with the wisdom and leadership you should be craving.
This brings us to today’s turbulent political climate, which poses unique questions for today’s business and not-for-profit leaders. Throughout the past generation, starting in the mid to late 80s, economic trends favoured open borders and decreased government intervention. The continuation of these economic trends is now in doubt as we witness waves of populism in many developed and developing economies. Most mainstream experts cannot predict where this will lead. Having members of your team with the wisdom and judgement to provide a deeper perspective in their analyses and decision making would give your organization that extra advantage to differentiate itself.
Hiring for a Different Perspective
Humanities grads’ training in debating, communicating, and critical thinking allows for a broader perspective needed to differentiate their analysis from that of other more typical business-oriented grads. In a recent study promoted by the World Economic Forum, Humanities graduates scored highly in several skills valued by leaders, including communication and inspiring excellence. These traits bolster the Humanities grad’s existing baseline acumen towards wisdom and judgement. Prominent Canadian business executive and philanthropist Lynton “Red” Wilson has donated millions of dollars to his Alma mater, much of which is focused on leadership and the liberal arts, “A liberal education helps prepare young men and women for leadership,” Wilson says. “A key component of the liberal arts, the study of Canadian history, equips us all to better understand the context of the experiences, choices and decisions we face every day.”
Closing the loop – Humanities plus a professional degree
Hiring a Humanities grad with a professional degree, such as a MBA, can provide you with the optimum combination – a deeper perspective combined with the business acumen that comes with a professional MBA. An Inside Higher Ed study, picked up by Forbes (“Majoring In The Humanities Does Pay Off, Just Later”), states that Humanities grads do earn more than grads with professional degrees. And the reason? 40% of liberal arts and social sciences grads go on to take graduate degrees, pushing up the earnings average. So, it seems that the Humanities grads, and those leaders who have the foresight to hire them, can have their cake and eat it too.
Jeff Chuchman MA, MBA(FS) 2017 is Director of Finance and Administration for the Faculty of Humanities, McMaster University. Recognized as a collaborative relationship builder, Jeff fosters community engagement and generates team synergies by welcoming and valuing input of colleagues. His MA in early 20th century history provides a rich appreciation and understanding for thriving within our current complex and dynamic work environment. Jeff has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CFAME Connection.
From the CEGE Archives: Republished Article