Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wanted For Hire: Not Too Smart or Too Stupid

I was recently helping a friend of a friend whose son was in the process of moving from Europe to Canada.  This young man had an insightful mind, a strong academic background and an excellent attitude and ethic.

In the particular market and geographical area he was hoping to find a position in, he looked for over a year and came up empty-handed, finally deciding to move on to another part of the world.

With such a background, he should have been a shoe-in for a job but he couldn’t find one.  What held him back?

It seems that in the marketplace he had targeted, there were additional criteria that he couldn’t meet; a secret, fuzzy criteria that was impossible to study for or anticipate.

The people he had approached didn’t want him to be too smart.  In essence, they didn’t want him to be smarter than they are (by their own definition and judgment) because it left their ego with a sense of being threatened.

So my response to them was “so you need this person to be not as smart as you” to which the response was “well, we won’t invest in him if he is too stupid either”.

So the final criteria for this enterprising individual was that he had to be less intelligent than the hiring person but not too stupid either – a nebulous range that would vary from one hiring individual to another and a range that would be impossible to anticipate on an interview-by-interview basis.

A Blessing in Disguise?

To not be hired by these people is actually a blessing in disguise for this young man.  Who would want to work for such narrow-minded, ego-centric leaders?

True leaders want and need to find people who are as smart or preferably, smarter than they are.  True leaders know they are tasked with leading individuals and groups to produce exceptional results and in the process, create leaders who are more knowledgeable than they are.

When leaders can adjust their ego such that they have enough to be confident but not so much that they forget their purpose, to create results as well as the leaders of tomorrow, then we will finally be on the road to a balanced, exceptional future – in business, in government, in institutions and in society.

Such results are resilient, long-lasting, extensible and empower the next generation of leaders to go far beyond the previous generation.

I know what kind of leader this young man is.  I also know he will connect with other insightful leaders who understand and embrace his gifts and together they will create some amazing things.

Strong leadership and strong ego are both accelerants – one accelerates results and growth for everyone and one accelerates the demise of everyone.

When you are hiring, are you looking to create a legacy of results and strong leadership in your teams or are you hiring to fuel your own ego?

Which attribute do you exhibit more – strong leadership or strong ego?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Wanted For Hire: Not Too Smart or Too Stupid”, please click here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Don’t Invest in Maybe

I’ve had some opportunity recently to revisit my BHAG, what Jim Collins in “Good to Great” describes as your “big hairy audacious goal”.

The BHAG is that which drives you to move forward towards a specific objective in life.  It is a goal that is not easy to achieve;  something that stretches you (maybe painfully) in a number of ways and establishes a reason for existence that relentlessly calls you to do whatever it takes in order for you to get there.

It provides the filter that you apply against every significant decision and action in  your life since everything you think, say and do takes you closer to or further away from your life goals and purpose.

Regardless of what most people claim, they in fact do not have a BHAG.

They have hopes, wishes, dreams and aspirations but they do not have a life purpose in mind that they move towards with focus and intention.  They wander aimlessly around hoping to hit on their purpose; wasting their time and the time of those around them.

Is it any wonder the world has so many challenges?

Just as evil as not having a BHAG are the situations where we have one but have allowed a lot of noise to interfere with seeing our BHAG clearly.

This noise takes many forms but there are two in particular that have made my BHAG a little cloudy as of late and which caused me to take some aggressive action to remove this cloudiness:

  • People who reach out with an ask that satisfies their own need but offers no value to anyone else
  • People who offer tantalizing offers or deals but when you get back to them, you discover they are trapped in the world of “fuzzy commitments” – the ones that keep you trapped in their “world of maybe” where you are offered a carrot but every time you reach back to them, they are not ready “just yet”.  In those situations, you spend an inordinate amount of time following something that wasn’t your idea in the first place and will probably never manifest.

There are many out there who believe that we should always see the best in everybody; that we should always entertain every request from every person simply because that is the right thing to do or that fate, destiny or something else has placed them in our path for a reason and so we MUST explore it (sort of like the people who must answer the phone simply because it rings).

I believe if we adhere to this belief too strongly, our Life falls into a wishy-washy “be everything to everybody” lifestyle that perhaps produces some results but leaves our own Life in a pattern of unfinished projects (or projects that never quite got started) or as a list of disappointments or frustrations.

At times like this, it is easy to be frustrated with others as we think “I can’t believe so-and-so did such-and-such”.

It’s not their fault.

It’s ours.

When someone enters our space, it is OUR choice that determines whether they stay there and what they do while they are there.

If their life is filled with intentions that benefit themselves only or they come heavily-laden with pie-in-the-sky stuff that they never execute, you can spend a lot of time seeking to find something positive that comes out of the collaboration.

In fact, we can spend a lifetime and have nothing to show for it all.  What a waste of our fantastic potential.

When you approach someone, have an idea of why both of you can benefit from a collaboration, what the ask and contribution are from both sides and what the result of the collaboration might be.

If someone approaches you, make the same request of them.

That’s not to say we should be overly aggressive (or ruthless) about turning others away just because we don’t know at the moment how to define the potential collaboration.  Sometimes amazing potential manifests when one stops and reflects on the opportunity.

However, don’t spend too much time trying to “define” something if the reasons are not obvious.  If an opportunity exists for collaboration but the purpose or mechanics are not immediately clear then the reasons for it, the means of execution and the potential upside may become clear at a later point.

Until that clarity exists, don’t chase the nebulous and the maybe’s.

To do so is a great way to spin our lives away into a lifetime of time wasted, unfulfilled dreams and empty intentions.

And when that happens, it is no one’s fault except our own.

Find your BHAG and be aggressive about controlling what contributes to it, detracts from it and what defines how clear or cloudy it is.

Have the courage to say “no” once in a while and stick to it.

It is YOUR Life after all.

Have a say in how you live it, what feeds into it, what influences it, what consumes your time and what results you produce.

YOU are worth it.

In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Don’t Invest in Maybe”, please click here.