Today getting employment and keeping it is a luxury. Gone are the times where there were more jobs than applicants and job security was almost a right. It’s a very competitive assignment for the job applicant and having an MBA from Harvard doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the roster…as a matter of fact it may not even get your foot in the door. This brings me to my topic which is becoming more prevalent now that we are further analyzing why talented people are not securing qualified employment, and how that’s destroying corporate America. Sure, there is always an argument that jobs especially those in manufacturing are continuing to move globally and that technology is forcing a different competency for which many just do not have. The answer there is pretty cut and drive today’s college graduate and current applicant has to have skill sets that address the current business commerce climate much of which is technology and global based. However, we’re seeing more and more those who are qualified to occupy those jobs not get those opportunities because they may be seen as overqualified (I still have to get my head around that excuse) or they’re a “threat” to current leadership. Yes, I said it…many of today’s top talent is turned away because they are too gifted and pose a potential threat. As I’ve alluded to earlier keeping a good job can be just as if not more challenging than getting a good job. Perhaps what we are seeing is the fact that many of those in position to hire feel threaten if they hire someone better than themselves. I come with some experience in this area having worked with clients whom I’ve developed tight relationships with tell me that they are more comfortable hiring someone less skillful (but can be developed) versus someone that has the complete package. When peeling back the onion a bit more on that decision I’m told there’s a concern that a person bringing that much skill to the table could cause a level of competition that may be harmful…code answer “that person may be better than me”. The other thinking is that person coming in with exceptional skill would command a higher pay check, which was an excuse not to hire them. I always reflect back to what Jack Welch (former General Electric CEO) said in one of his books “Straight From The Gut”, and I’m paraphrasing “I do not have a clue how a toaster works or the integral parts of an airplane…but I will hire those who do”. That quote has stayed with me for as long as I can remember and I believe has helped me understand what it’s meant to be an effective leader. Today, I tell all my CEO clients that it is not important that you know more than everyone or that you’re more intelligent than everyone in the room…what’s important is your ability to inspire and raise the level of excellence in your corporation and sometimes that means bringing in people who are smarter than you.
$Humility can pay off
One of the things I learned long ago that if I can effectively inspire, push, challenge and develop my direct reports to the point where they become self-sufficient and leaders in their own right, I might just be successful. Long behold that lesson I received from a mentor worked like a charm because the more I focused on developing people beyond my skill set the more I was known for developing talent, which catapulted me up the corporate ladder. I share this because I think there is too much selfish cognitive dissonance and not enough humility when it comes to leading people more capable than ourselves. Many of today’s corporate leadership are too concerned with protecting turf, eyeing colleague competition, and saving their rear ends rather than bringing in talent that could be of value to them. This is not only flawed and crippling behavior but it could be harmful for any organization. Your most successful companies like APPLE understand that in order to stay a top your corporate recruiting talent has to be at centers of excellence level. That brings me to “Corporate Culture”, fortunately for me most of the companies I’ve worked for placed a premium and halo on those who had the talent of developing people and moving them on to higher levels of responsibility. In other words, those who recruited the best, developed the best, and created the best moved to the higher levels of the organization. It wasn’t a surprise why these organizations succeeded and still succeed today. Leadership through “Humility” has to be a critical part of the “Corporate Culture” otherwise you create an environment that lacks trust, morale fortitude, and in most cases integrity. As a management consultant I’ve worked with companies that drive this internal competition where the culture rewards a “Me First” attitude, and it is not surprising that going through such things as personnel vacancy rates, training, leadership development, succession planning, and so on that the dearth of talent is in bad shape. While everyone in a leadership capacity is too consumed in their own well-being no one is willing to hire exceptional talent for fear of losing their status. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a competitive spirit within an organization as a matter of fact I encourage it with my clients, however, I parcel that by saying as long as the “competitive spirit” encourages development and continues to bring in excellence. GREAT leadership understands that success doesn’t happen from one thought or from one way of doing things; it requires humility and the willingness to be educated while educating.
A message to my CEOs, VPs, Directors etc
“Effective Leadership” is not about leading; it’s about inspiring and developing those around you to take your place one day. The next time you interview that candidate use that as your mental assessment, it’s the only way to ensure yours and the company’s success. A.H.
Hiring someone better than you…
AH2 & Beyond Consulting