I have just been to a meeting and the panel were talking about the importance of recruiting the right people. They all agreed that it was the people that we employed who made the fundamental difference between a good and a great company; if we looked after our team well, they would look after our customers. They said recruit for attitude and train for skill. All of which I would absolutely agree with.
There was also a discussion about the attitudes our ideal recruit would need and the importance of being able to identify those attitudinal traits so that we could test for them and notice them. Again all of that I would agree with. The thing is that this is not a perfectly scientific process. No matter how much we polish the process and learn from our experiences it is naive to think that we will ever be able to recruit the perfect candidate.
When we employ someone all we do is to buy 8 hours a day from them, and often that’s all we get. Sometimes that is more than we get. Whether the new recruit chooses to bring her creativity, enthusiasm, intelligence, commitment, her heart and soul to work is a different question. That is her choice, every minute of every day.
The art and science of helping our employees decide to bring the best of themselves to the workplace is a skill set that we call leadership. In 2016 the art and science of leadership is at the same time ever more important and it is also a scarcer commodity.
You see back in my granddad’s time he had no choice. He was a miner and if he decided to not show up or to not work hard he would be immediately dismissed which meant losing the roof over his head (the house was owned by the colliery), his heating (coal was delivered every week by the colliery) and almost certain destitution, as there were few other places of employment. In my father’s time it was a little different, but not much. The leadership skills I am talking about were not at all necessary back then.
In 2016 we face a much different scenario. People are much more mobile, in terms of careers and geographically. They have more choice. If they choose not to work, the system will support them. A tangle of laws protect us all from bosses who might hire and fire indiscriminately, and rightly so. There are many reasons why doing an excellent job may not be today’s employee’s prime objective. Yet in a world of fierce competition it is ever more important that we have a team of excellent and engaged people, hence the primacy in 2016 of the art and science of leadership.
How to engage and influence others to perform at their best more of the time is a definition of leadership. Many of these skills are the province of emotional intelligence. The good news is that modern research can link emotional intelligence to management competencies and it is possible to measure our performance, and therefore improve in these areas.