Noto Emoji Pie 1f4c4.svg (English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

Job descriptions sometimes set unrealistic expectations that we can find candidates who have all the possible skills and expertise they'll ever need on the job. Such (ideal) candidates are sometimes called "unicorns". This expectation is particularly pervasive for leadership positions.

You don't need unicorns.

In many cases, leaders don't need to be unicorns. What makes great leaders, however, is the ability to listen to experts around them, and make smart decisions based on the information that is at their disposal.

This was notably portrayed in the television show Scandal, in the episode The Testimony of Diego Muñoz. While we can probably agree that hiring for the WMF is a lower-stake decision than hiring for a country leader, the scene still makes a good point.

In the episode, Senator Susan Ross is in front of the U.S. Senate in a confirmation hearing to become the next Vice President of the United States. The committee is reluctant to confirm her due to her limited experience:

Senator Latham:

Well, that's very inspiring, Senator Ross. But the truth is, if confirmed, you will be one horrible tragedy away from the Presidency. With your lack of experience, how do I know that you're prepared to protect us against Russia or the North Koreans?

Senator Ross:

Simple. You don't. [Pause] You don't know. That's the truth.

It's not like selecting a combat strategy or deciding whether or not to launch a nuclear weapon is something anyone can practice.

The world is changing every day. Like anyone else sitting behind that desk in the oval office, I'd have to take all of the information from the brilliant people around me, process it, and make a smart, thoughtful decision.

And that's what I've been doing my entire life—making smart decisions. That's the skill that's brought me here before you today to this very moment.

So if being smart and informed and thoughtful is the job requirement here, all I can say is, I haven't failed yet.