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Square pegs, round holes.

Source | LinkedIn : By Oliver Tams

Square pegs, round holes, round pegs, square holes, universal analogies for not fitting in, individualism, mentioned frequently in business in good and bad situations. Depending on the requirements of a job, the above analogy can provide a world of opportunities or a world of pain, for the employee and the employer. The square peg in a round hole, has always been the idiomatic expression of individuality and in the past, companies have needed to carefully assess consequences, culturally and economic when hiring such individuals, especially in top management roles.

Companies often looked externally for CEOs with a proven track record of success and achievement but this did not always translate, especially if the ingrained culture of a company was detrimentally affected by the new arrival. Past examples abound, of CEOs coming into companies and trying to change things but finding, in the end culture trumps strategy every time. Robert Nardelli was a GE genius when he arrived at Home Depot in 2000, using his past experience and the Six Sigma management strategy, he replaced the entrepreneurial culture of the company and turned off the public which eventually saw him sacked in 2007, when he went on to lead Chrysler with similar bad experiences to be again ousted in 2009. Ten years ago, Booz Allen Hamilton studies found nearly 50% of CEOs hired from external companies failed, while 75% promoted from within succeeded. Like all business situations, there are always two sides and it behoves the company and the individual to consider ramifications of their actions in cases like the above.

Today the trend towards individualistic entrepreneurism has companies looking to embrace CEOs square pegs. Bringing in such a CEO, brings with it a raft of emotions and decisions to be made, decisions to change dramatically or even just a little to fit in or continue to search for a better fit elsewhere. 

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