Employing leadership in the marketplace is one area many organizations strive to hire and internally grow. As individuals seek employment they need to attract the attention of potential employers with their “soft” skills in leadership. Leadership comes from every position and very often leadership in the seemingly less significant organizational layers can be just as critical as leadership at the senior level. In fact, the bulk of leadership in most organizations comes not from the top rungs, but from the middle. The most important employees in an organization are not always those who are up front. Sometimes the most important leaders are those who are further back. Both employees and employers must know how successful organizations go about looking for and identifying leaders when they do their hiring.
The fabric of an organization: administrative functions, technical functions, support functions, human resource functions, marketing and sales are engine of most organizations and to the end if any of these functions don’t get done, even the seemingly unimportant ones, then the entire organization suffers. Most if not all of an organization’s day to day operations are carried out by a team of workers and each team needs a leader. This is why leadership is needed at all levels, not just at the top.
As employers, when assessing leadership of potential candidates here are some of the qualities that stand out:
- Listening. A leader doesn’t think he or she knows everything, or always knows better than other people.
- Inclusiveness. A leader not only listens, but listens to lots of different people. With this knowledge internalized they take this advice and the views received into account when making decisions.
- Delegation. Leaders recognize the importance of giving up control in certain areas because other people know more about that area and acknowledge the expertise others bring to the table. Inclusiveness and delegation, together, are the essence of shared control.
- Sincerity. A leader doesn’t just pretend to listen or try to be something/someone they are not. They do not pay lip service to others or company nor do they attempt to manipulate the process or people for personal gain.
- Decisiveness. A leader will be the ultimate decision maker once they have taken account for all feedback and facts. The ultimate decision rests with them and they accept responsibility for the decision – good, bad or indifferent.
- Accountability. A leader never blames others for problem or failures – even if others are at fault, a leader will find a solution not fault.
- Optimism. Whatever adversity may arise, a leader is always positive (at least publicly), and project an attitude of realistic optimism – they are not sugar coating the truth, rather they are honest and open without being overly dramatic to the negative.
- Realism. A leader is objective about challenges.
- No “Bullshit”. A leader tells it like it is. He or she does not pat faculty and staff members on the head and assure them that everything’s going to be OK when it might not be. There is honesty and truth in their delivery as well
- Shares Credit, Take The Blame. A leader not only accepts blame; but they will also deflects praise and credit to others. They understand that, when others earn recognition, that reflects positively on him or her. A leader does not always have to be the one in the spotlight—and, indeed, may actually shun the spotlight. A leader is not concerned with moving up the ladder or to make themselves look good. They want others to be their best and the success for the bigger vision for the organization.
- Trustworthiness. If a leader commits to do something, then they follow through and do it. If humanly possible—and if not, explains why and accepts responsibility for failure. If one tells a leader something in confidence, that information remains confidential.
- Morality. At the end of day, a leader can be counted on to do what they believe is right and best for all concerned, even if it is unpopular in some quarters.
Prior experience of candidate’s background to assess leadership impact
When you do assess the resume of a potential candidate, one key area focus on is to find out the specific nature of the achievements the person was responsible for causing to happen in his career, and how much of an impact he or she had in making them happen. Keep in mind that a true leader is someone who is capable of making an imprint. Also, find out things like how many people were led and how well resources were managed. An important technique here is to drill down in the interview and get specifics! Find out details, and the more the better. Specifically, ask what aspects of the candidate’s achievements were most enjoyable or satisfying. This could provide clues not only about the candidate’s interests, but also about his own motivation and ability to motivate others. You are trying to find is a pattern of recurring behavior that will give you valuable insight on how effectively the candidate will lead in your organization.
Focus on vision
Does potential candidate past achievements show any evidence of being having the ability to see a vision and being proactive? If you cannot ascertain this from the resume, you may need to create some interview questions that bring out this information in your hiring process. In what direction does the candidate feel the business function needs to go? How does the candidate perceive the future? What does she see as the best way forward? A leader is capable of articulating a clear and compelling vision which others can buy into. Is this candidate forward-looking and understanding of the business function well enough to develop and articulate that vision?
Simulate a leadership environment
A great way of getting a feel for how people are likely to perform as leaders is to project them into realistic job environments that allow you to observe how they act. Roll play a scenario where future leaders are required to interact with potential fellow employees and work together with them in teams. In general, see how potential leaders behave in situations that require leadership skills.
Grow your own leaders
In reality, the best way an organization can acquire its leaders is to build them from the bottom up. Companies can plant the seeds for internal leadership growth by instituting leadership training and development programs and ensuring they are widely available to people throughout the organization. Additionally having the policy to openly share corporate information with employees at all levels to the greatest practical extent. Giving employees a sense of “ownership” by letting employees in on business results and corporate strategy will go a long way towards fostering a shared sense of mission and direction and will breed a culture that values and embraces leadership at all levels.
Here are questions to provide thoughts from your team:
Q1: How do leadership skills translate on a resume?
Q2: What leadership skills do you possess that you feel make your more marketable to employers?
Q3: Should organization hire internally before externally for positions to keep culture and leadership intact?
Q4: What leadership skills do you feel should be tested by potential employers?
Q5: How do you spot potential leaders in organizations?
Q6: How do leaders grow within organizations – mentoring, training?
Q7: Should leadership be required by colleges or can you really “teach” leadership skills to others?