Richard Nixon

Lessons from the IMF: How to hire in a crisis

June 28, 2011: 3:16 PM ET

It doesn't matter whether Lagarde was the very best choice to take over the IMF. In this case, the organization went with a good choice for right now, a key ingredient in crisis hiring.

By Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter

FORTUNE -- The first rule of hiring a new leader during turmoil: do not make the crisis worse.

Today, the International Monetary Fund selected Christine Lagarde as its next director to replace the disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned on May 18 amid accusations that he sexually assaulted a maid in a New York hotel.

It doesn't really matter whether Lagarde would be the best choice for the position had Strauss-Kahn's term come to a natural end: she's a good choice for right now.

In a crisis, "Sometimes you're going to have to compromise -- you're going to choose the candidate as a concession to certain interests," says Gene Grabowski, senior vice president and chair of the crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications.

While Lagarde's appointment is not necessarily a concession, there are several reasons why she fits the bill.

For one, there's no better time for the IMF to hire its first female director. Grabowski says: "It sends a message that the organization isn't just an old boy's club and is aware of the seriousness of the charges against Strauss-Kahn." More

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