Posted tagged ‘commitment’

What to Evaluate When Hiring Executives

June 16, 2010

There are certain items that are prerequisites when hiring an executive. Ideally, the candidate should be either knowledgeable in the industry or the skills that are required by the organization to fulfill its mission.

Typically, when I enter the hiring process, the candidates have been vetted in these areas. What I look for are the leadership qualities that are invariably required for success.

Here’s my Top 10:

(1) Positive Energy: Staff always takes their cue from the person on top. If that person isn’t excited about coming to work, every staff member will be affected by that malaise.

(2) Energize Others: Effective leaders need to motivate and inspire.

(3) The “Edge”: This is a term borrowed from Jack Welch. It speaks to the ability to make tough decisions

(4) Vision: Any effective plan starts with a direction. You can’t lead people unless you know to where you are leading them. Part of this skill is the ability to “see around the corners,” and anticipate what may occur and manage for these eventualities.

(5) Execution Skills: The effective leader needs to help people identify the right tactics, sequencing and hold them accountable for delivering results.

(6) Passion: This is a higher level of positive energy. It’s more about a deep and resounding commitment to the client, the staff, the shareholders and the work.

(7) Crisis Management: Crises happen and they happen to everyone. A leader must be planning oriented, possess a cool head and be able to take charge when everyone else is losing focus.

(8) Authenticity: Leaders must be true to their own selves.  This trait also addresses the leader’s ability to recognize his or her strengths and weaknesses and compensate for both.

(9) Ability to Learn: More than ever, today’s leader must be able to learn about their industry, their people and the world around them.

(10) Commitment to Teach: The fundamental role of leadership is to grow the next generation of leaders. Patience and a desire to educate are therefore core to the effective leader.

This list is not sequenced by importance and, naturally, the degree of strength in any area is relative to the “heart of the assignment.”


In us we trust?

October 14, 2009

From time to time, the world sends us reminders about a value or function that we need to master or at least address better. Lately, I’ve noticed a single word keeps surfacing – trust.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, says that trust is the foundation of teamwork. Without trust and vulnerability, one cannot have a candid conversation. And without a candid conversation there can be no conflict, which would lead to understanding each other’s perspectives and ultimately creating commitment, accountability and results.

Healthy organizations have a culture of trust. There, trust means the ability to also believe that one can count on one another and that we each share a common purpose.

Isn’t the whole healthcare debate in Washington really about a lack of trust in the numbers, positions and beliefs of our leaders?

And a fundamental reason regional peace talks fail between countries is often because neither party trusts the other.

If we wish to rebuild our country, industries, school systems, and families, perhaps it is time to revisit this fundamental underpinning.

Consistency and Commitment: A Two Stage Influencer

June 8, 2009

Cialdini’s second weapon of influence is commitment and consistency. The rule here is that we feel required to be consistent with what we have already said or done. As Cialdini explains, “once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that decision.”

Here are some examples of how this type of behavior manifests itself. Someone takes a public position and then must explain it afterward. Or one of the more interesting studies that the author cites is one where staged thefts of a radio were performed on a beach. Onlookers attempted to stop the thief four in twenty times. However, when onlookers were asked by the individual beforehand to watch the radio before leaving the scene, an astounding19 out of 20 times an onlooker attempted to stop the thief! The power of commitment and consistency was so strong that people were actually willing to put themselves in harm’s way.

Much like reciprocity, consistency is a desirable personality trait. People who are inconsistent are thought to be two-faced or confused while those who are consistent are thought to be balanced and decisive.

In fact, my mentor Carl, shared with me a business aphorism long ago. It simply stated that “management should always be consistent but never predictable.” Until reading this book, I had always believed that aphorism meant that employees needed to have common and fair rules. Cialdini adds dimensions that speaks to the management portion of the equation, such as trustworthiness and stability.

Most of us relish consistency as it allows us to apply rules and patterns to our thinking. “If this is true then that must also be true.” Applying these types of rules enables us to accelerate our thinking and decision making process. In fact, once the rule is applied, we may never revisit the circumstance again. This explains why automatic consistency is a state that we relish.

However, like any rule, we appreciate its value most of the time but are discomfited when it is used against us. Cialdini discusses how toy stores use consistency and commitment to get us into their stores in January – after the holiday rush and massive toy shopping has just finished.

It’s really quite simple. A toy gets heavily advertised. Your child is excited by it and approaches you about buying it for the holidays. After some consideration, you agree and make the commitment to buy it. When you get to the store, you discover the toy is out of stock. You may check out other stores and then discover that it simply is not available.

What should you do?

You buy other toy(s) to compensate and apologize to your child.

Miraculously, in January, a fresh shipment of these toys arrive. Your child or you notices – and then consistency kicks in. Off you go to buy the toy… The toy stores have thereby leveraged your commitment to yourself and your child as well as your need for consistency to get you back to shopping. (Think beanie babies, cabbage patch kids or more recently, the Wii)

The key element in all of this is that commitment precedes consistency. If your commitment is on the record, the consistency trait kicks in and you will almost certainly respond in a way that supports the commitment. Knowing this, if you want to raise funds for a charity, the first step might be to get your target market to sign a petition that states that the cause is worthy. Commitment precedes consistency.

Cialdini emphasizes that commitment can come in stages. Supporting one campaign well set the stage for supporting extended versions of that campaign. So starting with a little request, such as a petition, creates the foundation and sets the stage for larger requests, such as a donation.

So how does one fight this overwhelming need to be consistent? Cialdini believes that while consistency is required in our day-to-day lives, we do know when it would be wise to forgo consistency in favor of what we know to be right. That feeling that we have in our stomachs when we are not comfortable with a decision is our mind and body’s way to tell us that we should rethink our position – or our actions, and we should learn to recognize and “follow our gut.”

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