With information never having been more accessible, sporting clubs and coaches have numerous ways in which they can verify the playing records of players and the coaching credentials of prospective coaches. Most will do a thorough background check on a player prior to signing him to their club. Checking his time on the pitch, the number of clubs he has played for, his injury history, his personality and even when that has been completed the player will have to go through a medical before the contract on the table is signed.
So if players and coaches have to go through such a rigorous process of checks why is it that CEO’s appear not to?
In the past two weeks news came to light of a former CEO of one sporting organisation being unveiled as the new CEO of another. There was nothing particularly strange in that. However, when one knows that this individual had their contract terminated by their previous employer after they had overseen the company go from having millions in the bank, to over a million dollar deficit, one wonders how they could possibly land a similar role. One also has to ask whether the new employer has done their due diligence in selecting their new CEO.
This does not come as a complete shock. Another sporting CEO who had their contract terminated, also walked straight into a similar position within the sporting world. When one of the board members who appointed the said person was asked how they had reached such a decision, the answer was, ‘they were the only applicant that had CEO experience.’ Were background checks done? Was a phone call made to any of the Board members of the other organisation to find out why their contract was terminated? It appeared not. This did not end well, the appointment resulted in the organisation having to declare itself bankrupt within two years and their CEO was again shown the door.
These are not isolated cases, there is another sporting CEO who was shown the door prematurely at his sporting employer, again due to issues of a financial nature, and they too have landed a similar role with another employer in the sporting world.
Possibly one of the most amazing in recent times is the CEO who shares the same name as a former international player, and despite that player still being very much alive, has quite happily passed of their achievements as their own!
There will always be sporting organisations that will make the brave move of appointing a CEO who has never held such a position, but it is important that the person appointed clearly shows that they have the wherewithal to carry out the duties of a Chief Executive. After all the future of that club, venue, or sport as a whole is in their hands.
One sporting organisation recently appointed a fresh CEO to head their organisation, which was a brave move. It was brave as it turned out that the said person had never held a senior management role, and had only ever been responsible for four staff in their previous jobs. Were they suitably qualified for such a role?
There has been a history of people appointed to such roles from a finance background. The reasoning behind such an appointment is, on the surface, fairly obvious, as they will undoubtedly be fiscally savvy, and will know how to make the sport generate more income. But do they? Many such appointments have seen the incumbent so fixated on the numbers that they have forgotten that sport is in fact about people. It is played by people, coached by people and watched by people, and the one thing people hate more than anything else is being made to feel like just a number. Some, not all, of these appointees have lost sight of the fact that the key to successful sporting clubs and bodies is interaction with people, players, fans, and staff a like. A common trend with such appointments is to see all marketing spend cut. Yet if the sport, the venue or the club is not promoted, how will you ever generate money? Certainly with no promotion sponsors will soon walk away.
Of course those running the sport say the clubs should promote themselves, and those running the clubs say that those running the tournament should be promoting the competition. The truth is both need to, and they need to have a co-ordinated approach.
There are a couple of sporting organisations where it is widely accepted that if you want an answer there are only one or two people you can go to in order to find out information. Senior management fail to return phone calls or reply to emails, this in an era where we are told that communication is the key. As one of these individuals explained, they were “old fashioned” and feel that every call and every email deserves a response. They went onto to say that, ‘after all I am here to serve those playing the sport and the clubs.’
It is refreshing to know that there are still some who are not just there for career advancement. These people are the key to any organisation, and every organisation has many of them. Yet the modern-day management incredibly see them as a threat, and that by actually communicating with people they are undermining the organisation. This was a statement made by one staff member in one sporting body.
It is well known today that organisations go through “an extensive process” in order “to find the most suitable person.” However in reality some of the appointments have made these processes questionable. The biggest question being, despite a person appearing the best qualified on paper and having interviewed well, have adequate background checks been done to make sure that they really are the best person for the job?
As we know there are companies that you can pay to create a curriculum vitae that is designed to attract attention. Many of these cleverly leave out key issues and pump up other achievements to appear more grandiose than they actually were. Unless the interviewer knows the right question to ask they may never find out the candidate’s failings.
Then there are the recruitment companies who will put forward candidates. Some are more reputable than others. The good ones will not put forward people who they feel are not up to the job. They look to the future and know that when their candidates failings become apparent to the employer, they know it will hurt their reputation as a company. However, there are many less scrupulous companies who will simply push forward second-raters simply to obtain another placement, and their commission.
Finding the right person is not easy, especially in such a senior position, and maybe that is why people with the three letters CEO on their resume are continually recycled. Those doing the recruiting feeling it is the safe option. With situations cropping up as mentioned, it is now more important than ever that those doing the interviewing, and carrying out the selection process ensure that they carry out extensive background checks with past employers, and not just referees listed by the applicant. Checking the veracity of a candidates claims in this day and age should not be hard and is essential.
The damage the wrong person can do to a club, a venue or a sport as a whole is in some cases irreparable.