Posts in Management
Humility and Fierce Resolve

I pulled out my notes on Good to Great to find a quote or two for yesterday's blog post on self-awareness. Inevitably I found other quotes meaningful to me. They speak for themselves and since my drafts queue is full of half-finished ideas, allow me to simply share them with you below. You'll find my brief comments in italics. The title of this post refers to the two key qualities found in all of Collins' Level 5 leaders.

Management and leadership is not about those doing the managing and leading, but rather about those being managed and led.

... Level 5 leaders have ambition not for themselves but for their companies ... Level 5 leaders want to see their companies become even more successful in the next generation and are comfortable with the idea that most people won’t even know that the roots of that success trace back to them. As one Level 5 CEO said, “I want to look from my porch, see the company as one of the great companies in the world someday, and be able to say, ‘I used to work there.’ ” 

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On Self-Awareness

"What is your damage, Heather?" -Veronica Sawyer

Those of a certain age <ahem> will remember this comeback from the halls of high school. The question, however, is critical. Those who achieve self-awareness likely have spent a significant portion of their lives exploring the answer.

Jim Collins discusses the role of self-awareness in leadership in his seminal book Good to Great. “Level 5 leaders [Collins' highest order] are a study in duality: modest and willful, shy and fearless.” Leaders able to project conviction yet be truly and constantly receptive to dissent and ideas from throughout the organization cannot exist without high degrees of self-awareness. 

Self-awareness is my number one predictor of future success because it essentially predetermines one’s capacity for growth. Combine self-awareness with exceedingly high levels of intellect and curiosity and – BOOM – you’ve got a winner on your hands. Add experience and the necessary winning personality to the mix and you should do all you can to prevent the candidate from walking out the door. But please don't break the law like Veronica and J.D. did.

Without knowing your damage, you may be capable of determining what makes you tick but you will be blind to what makes you react. 

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On Candor

Build a culture centered around speaking the truth, and you create an environment that nourishes courage, encourages risk taking, and regularly pushes your business through new thresholds.

Look into the companies you admire and you'll notice candor sits at the core of the culture of these great organizations. Without it, ideas are squashed before they see the light of day, while those ideas that do surface don't face hard questions from day one. Candor is also the one problem solving technique that works in any situation. 

As a COO I am constantly collecting information across the organization, strengthening the decision making ability of the executive team and gathering the data I need to build and iterate the systems, processes, and organizational structures necessary to support rapid growth. By bringing what is seen and thought throughout the org into the light, decision makers are best informed as to the risks and opportunities they face.

As a leader my responsibility is to tell hard truths to my team and to my CEO. I can only do that when folks truly believe that I have their best interests at heart and my intention is to push them to being their better selves. 

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On Recruiting, Part One

We can be sure we are building a successful recruitment strategy and brand when a candidate we reject refers a candidate we hire. 

My recruiters and team members have heard me preach variations of this theme for years. I usually get a strange look the first time they hear me say it. My point is simple: if we spend our time focusing on details and dignity in the candidate experience, the payoff for all parties will be substantial. And when a recruiter closes their first successful rejected candidate referral, the lightbulb goes off and the purpose of all the work we put into recruiting becomes clear.

Recruiting is about relationships. Every candidate who applies to your company isn't just a prospective employee. They're a prospective customer. Evangelist. Source of talent. 

And never, ever judge a book by it's cover.

The basic premise is simple: treat everyone awesome. You don't know who the A+ player is before she walks in the door. And you don't know who the B- player is friends with when they walk out the door. Every candidate that works their way through your recruitment process will undoubtedly share their impressions and experiences with their friends. This will impact your brand.

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