Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Hiring for the White House
November 17, 2008, 3:56 PM
Filed under: Human Resources, Leadership | Tags: ,

President-elect Barack Obama will have his plate full for the next year (at least) with important tasks: setting the tone for his first term in office, selecting a family dog, and nominating nearly 500 people to cabinet and subcabinet posts.


This number has grown in leaps and bounds since the days of George Washington, with his Cabinet of four (Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War and Attorney General). According to the article “Our tottering confirmation processpublished back in 2002—though still relevant—the nominating or “hiring” process for Cabinet members takes up a large chunk of a President’s first year in office. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush took approximately 8.5 months to select their Cabinet appointees and get them approved and sworn in by the Supreme Court.


Perhaps Obama would benefit from a book recently published in November by Portfolio: There’s No Elevator to the Top: A Leading Headhunter Shares the Advancement Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Executives. Written by Umesh Ramakrishan, vice chairman of CTPartners—a global executive search firm—the book gives its readers a look at what it’s like to reach the top of a major company. Now sure, you could say Obama is already at the top, but this book could help him quickly pick out key qualities that he should look for when selecting his Cabinet appointees. From a write-up by Publisher’s Weekly: “The advice Ramakrishman elicits from the executives delves into such areas as the importance of choosing only ‘A’ players when seeking to assemble a strong team and striving for a flatter organizational structure to promote communication and information flow.” It sounds like Obama could learn a lot from this book. For the rest of us, There’s No Elevator to the Top can over guidance and challenge us to bring our A-game.


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