‘Widow- Maker’ is the newest C-Level word to describe a position in an organization, so named because it defeats even the most capable executives (regardless of gender), as if it were predestined. Often, says the Institute of Management Consultants USA, the cause is a poorly designed job, created for some crisis or emerging trend, the resolution of which is poorly understood. Companies most susceptible to these positions are ones that are changing fast, whether they are growing, shrinking, entering new markets or adding capabilities or technologies. The board or CEO sees a need and decides to vest its management in a new position and staff it with someone who has been successful in ‘similar’ positions, although the new position is unlike any existing one.
Unfortunately, the new senior executive has a high rate of self-destruction without clear definition as to whether they weren’t up to the job, or if the job itself was just one in which no one could succeed.
Note to the wise … It all starts with a clearly defined job description and placing the right person in the right position for the right time and the right reason.