Did You Leave Fingerprints?

Glenn Murphy resigned his CEO role with Gap, Inc. effective February 1, 2015.

English: Fingerprint

While I don’t know Murphy, I do know one thing about his 8-year stint at the Gap: Murphy left “fingerprints.”

Murphy was brought at a time when Gap was generally described as “adrift” and “without focus.” While financial results were mixed during his tenure – retail is a tough place for anyone to perform well – the stock price doubled during his time holding the stick. The not-so-focused company is now focused, and holding its own.

Given the respect from stock analysts in the way Murphy has managed, it’s no surprise the stock dumped on his announcement.

The challenge in assessing most candidates is that unlike Murphy, they left few enduring marks. Their time at a company or in a role is too short.

Kevin Weill, at Twitter, for example, just became the fourth head of product in four years. His predecessor, hired from the outside, lasted all of six months. While I’d guess Kevin is talented, you have to wonder based on past in the role whether he’ll be around long enough to leave his mark.

Cut to the chase?

When you’re hiring, look for candidates who have been some place or in a role long enough to leave their mark, not just the fortunate (or unfortunate) recipient of timing (e.g. a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide sinks all boats).

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.


Fingerprint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)