I just finished reading a book with an interesting title, I would even say, a provocative title. To the point that at first, I didn’t want to read it; it felt like a blow to my ego.
Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?
My goal in this blog is to suggest ideas or actions that apply to one of the solutions proposed in this book. Now before we dive in, let me tell you a few things;
- I totally agreed with the conclusion of this book.
- We have stated a while back that we believe we do not have an employee shortage problem; we have a leadership problem. To be more specific, we don’t have the right type of leadership.
- Is the book only aimed at men? Or women? Of course, not. It is for anyone who, like me, has decided to embark on a journey to become a better leader.
Unfortunately, in a lot of situations that I have witnessed, we get caught up in the following pitfalls. When hiring, if we choose an external candidate, we are easily influenced by his/her track record or charisma. If we choose an internal candidate, we look at their technical performance and work ethics.
For crying out loud, stop making these mistakes!
You’ve heard this statement before; Your past success doesn’t guarantee your future results.
Today, if you google “how to perform great in a job interview” you’ll get about 1,710,000,000 results. So, do you think I can find some tricks in there to create a smoke screen for the interviewer? Of course.
I don’t need to tell you that a good carpenter, or a salesperson, if promoted to a leadership position, won’t necessarily have what it takes to succeed. They are two different skill sets. Typically, the talents we look for in an operational role like a carpenter or salesperson are more technical, while in a leadership role we are looking for soft skills first.
So, what is the problem? The selection process is biased from the beginning of these two things:
- The candidates’ credentials
- The applicants’ personalities
What needs to happen for you to avoid these mistakes and be able to spot the fake leaders in an interview? It all comes down to talents. I read recently that one of the biggest HR challenges in the coming years is the acquisition and management of talents. We need to agree on one thing before we go any further; the talents critical of an operational role (carpenter, sales) versus a leadership role will be different. I hope we are on the same page.
Let’s go back in time to the last leadership position you had to fill in your organization. Did you take the time to identify a number of required talents, which are key to the success of that role? Are they measurable and observable? Have you challenged them during the interview process? When you called the candidate’s references, did you ask questions specifically about those talents? Most likely not.
For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that you need a new sales manager and you choose the following talents (competencies) just to name a few:
- Delegation skills
- Planning and organizing
- Interpersonal skills
During your selection process you must be able to identify if the candidates have those talents. How?
- Follow a structured interview process
- Ask specific questions about those talents
- Create roleplaying scenarios or simulations that will help you see if they possess those talents.
- Use psychometric tools such as MPO
- Ask specific questions concerning those traits when checking references
The sad thing that I see most of the time is that we don’t take the time to have a very good discussion or even a debate on which talents are required for the leadership position. The job postings will mention, “having the quality of a leader!”, what does that mean? We would get a different answer from each employee in your organization.
You might say: We’ll train them. Yes, that is an option, but if the talents you require are not strengths within the candidate it will take a lot of energy from them and whoever supervises them to change that habit. Are you willing to do that? In a workplace: energy = time. Do you have that much time? Don’t forget; people will change, but slowly.
In conclusion, here are some ideas that you can implement right away:
- The talents chosen by your organization must be well defined, measurable, and observable.
- You should have a minimum of 6 talents and a maximum of 12.
- Make sure you challenge the candidates regarding these talents during the selection process.
- As you move up the organizational ladder, the talents required will change, make sure you have different choices for different roles.
- The chosen talents must support your current strategy.
I hope this was helpful, if you have any comments or you would like to chat about this topic, feel free to reach out to me.