Should High-Performing Employees Select Their Manager?

Ask anyone who knows classical music and they will tell you the Berlin Philharmonic is among the top three symphony orchestras in the world. Today, for only the seventh time in the past 70 years, the orchestra will select a new conductor.


The 124 tenured members of the orchestra will meet in a secret location – without access to cell phones or the outside world – and vote. They can vote for any living conductor yet, as a practical matter, several front-runners have emerged based on talent, temperament, musical approach, career stage, and interest in the position. After several rounds of voting the members will reach a consensus.

So, an interesting question: Should an organization of high-performing employees be able to select their manager? Given a unique set of assumptions, the answer may be: yes. If there is a strong motivation to sustain organizational excellence, personal incentives (monetary and/or psychological) for doing so, and a recognition that sustained excellence depends on a highly capable leader who can work well with and get the most from a group of skilled performers, then, yes, this may be an effective (the ideal?) model.

The question to ask yourself: For your organization and your employees, would this model, or a modified version, lead to better results than you’re getting now?

Your thoughts?


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