First, a disclaimer. In general, living on the road is a combination of the mundane, punctuated by random irritation. After the first two weeks, all illusions of glamour have disappeared. However, sometimes there are perks…

Recently, I the was guest of Chef Wayne, the Executive Chef of the Chart House, in San Antonio, for a tasting menu dinner. The Chart House is one of the top three restaurants in the city and the whole experience for incredible, but that is not the point of the story. Here’s the point. We were test subjects.

Chef Wayne was in the process of hiring a new chef for the kitchen and we were part of the try-out. So what is a chef interview like? At a 5-star restaurant, with a boss like Chef Wayne, it goes a little something like this. The interviewee is provided with all the fresh ingredients to cook a meal (it this case: appetizers, soup, salad, side dishes, main course, and dessert). The chef then tells the candidate, “Impress me.”

The interviewee then begins cooking. The Chef is judging him on organization, timeliness, taste and presentation. If the Chef is impressed, the interviewee is hired. If the Chef isn’t impressed, the interviewee hits the bricks.

Talk about being results oriented. What if we were able to hire teachers in a similar manner? “Here’s the class, here’s the lesson plan and resources, now teach a mini-lesson and impress me.”

I would ask, what if we could hire administrators the same way? But, in some places we already are. The Leadership Development Academy (LDA) in San Antonio is a one year interview for aspiring assistant principals and principals. These aspiring leaders are working everyday with the toughest kids in San Antonio, with this mandate: teach the toughest of the tough and show that you have what it takes to move to the next level. And it works.

Some staff are being plucked from the program to fill leadership positions as they open up, some staff are on the “A” list to move up soon, and some staff have shown that though they were willing to talk the talk, they are either unwilling or unable to walk the walk.

Bob Brezina, taught me to hire based on potential, retain based on performance. Chef Wayne and the LDA take this to the next level; hire based on performance, retain based on performance.

So what happened to the chef who was being interviewed? In a unique turn of events, he was asked to come back and interview again the next night. As those of us in the dinner party can attest, he nailed the crab stuffed mushrooms, pear and goat cheese salad, lobster bisque, potatoes, grilled sea bass and chocolate soufflé. However, he fried the spinach. Evidently, you don’t fry spinach in Chef Wayne’s kitchen.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your Turn…