Why Your Next Leader Shouldn’t Come From Within: A Gambling Industry Perspective


If there’s one thing my three decades of observing the gambling industry have taught me, change is the only constant.

As we evolve, particularly in the age of digital transformation, I feel compelled to share a contrarian view that might shake up the way you think about leadership recruitment within the sector.

Conventional wisdom says to promote from within. Build your leaders; don’t buy them. I’ve heard it, I’ve believed it, and I’ve even advocated for it. But what if I told you that this ingrained belief could limit the industry’s potential?

A. Reasons Against Internal Hiring
Limited Perspective:
When a leader is promoted from within, the company’s current practices and culture often restrict their viewpoint. You can’t afford a narrow scope in a fast-paced industry!
Skill Gaps:
No matter how experienced, internal candidates might need more specific skills for a higher role. Gaps in leadership skills can be detrimental, not just for the executive but for the entire team.
Group Think:
Promoting from within can sometimes perpetuate a culture of groupthink. This becomes a systemic problem when innovation is required to stay ahead of the curve.
Emotional Baggage:
Moving up the ranks often comes with emotional strings attached. Team dynamics and previous relationships can get in the way of decisive leadership.
Creating Resentment:
Aiming to please old colleagues while driving the company forward can create a turbulent emotional environment, a barrier to effective leadership.
Comfort Zone:
Internal hires may need more drive to bring radical change owing to attachments to existing ways. This can be detrimental in an industry that demands regular reinvention.

B. The Rewards of Looking Outwards
Fresh Perspective:
An external candidate brings new ways of thinking, possibly gained from varied industry experience, that can stimulate innovation.
Skill Enrichment:
By hiring externally, you can target candidates with the skill set your organisation needs.
Free from internal politics and pre-established alliances, an external leader can make impartial decisions.
Increased Morale:
The entrance of a new leader can bring a surge of optimism and enthusiasm among team members, which can be contagious.
Global Talent Pool:
Why limit yourself to local talent when you could bring in the best worldwide?

Of course, I understand that external hiring comes with challenges, like cultural fit and extended adjustment periods.

But my point is: let’s not make it the default choice. Sometimes, stepping outside of our comfort zones can yield incredible results. Shouldn’t we explore all available avenues if we genuinely aim for industry leadership?

Whether you choose to promote from within or the wider talent pool, the goal is to make better decisions for growth. The industry is too dynamic, global, and competitive to be caught in the status quo!