Using a Horse Race to Choose a Board Member

Using a Horse Race to Choose a Board Member

Horse racing is a global phenomenon that has taken place since ancient times. It is a sport that involves betting on the outcome of a race between horses, with a champion crowned at the end of the contest. While many governance observers are uncomfortable with the horse race approach to choosing a new leader — an overt competition among several recognized candidates within a set time frame — this traditional process has proven successful for numerous companies over the years.

The first step for a board considering the use of a horse race is to consider the organization’s culture and structure. If the company is highly collaborative and team-oriented, an overt leadership contest could create a disruptive environment. It is also important to determine whether the company has the necessary processes in place to ensure that the winner of the horse race has the competencies and experience to lead the firm moving forward.

A horse race is a type of Thoroughbred race, in which horses are matched against one another at various distances to determine the winner. The horses are weighed before the race, and are allowed to carry weight depending on their age (younger horses compete with less), their sex, and the distance of the race.

Traditionally, the race is held on a dirt track, and the horse’s speed and endurance are tested through a series of sprints. The earliest races were short distances, such as a quarter mile or a half mile, and were intended to demonstrate the top speed of horses to potential buyers. Professional riders, or jockeys, rode the horses, and they were usually young boys who were skilled in horse care and maintenance.

Today, horses are bred for racing purposes by large breeding farms and raced at many major tracks throughout the world. Despite the romanticized facade of thoroughbred horse racing, behind the scenes are a world of drug abuse, injuries, and even deaths. The animals are whipped and forced to sprint at speeds that often cause them to break down or hemorrhage from their lungs, and most—according to the animal rights group Horseracing Wrongs—are ultimately killed.

While the equine sports industry is working to address some of these issues, horse racing remains a deadly business that can’t be considered a legitimate sport. The horses are abused and pushed to their limits, and those who aren’t killed or injured are often slaughtered for food.

Similarly, a horse race for the CEO role can have a negative impact on the company. Depending on the competition and how it is handled, an overt race can disrupt the culture of the firm, potentially alienating strong leaders deeper in the organization who may have aligned themselves with an unsuccessful candidate. If this occurs, it is crucial for the board to make sure that the process is designed to be as smooth as possible. In addition, the board must have a clear understanding of what skills the firm needs in its next leader so that the correct executive can be selected.