Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail
Harold R. McAlindon
It’s easy to hit a sinking ship. It’s easy to find fault and easy to trouble spot. Good leaders do the opposite; they unearth diamonds in places nobody else looked. They polish them and then they sparkle. Grooming your future shining stars is all about helping them to rise.
The last few years have created a culture of ‘cut, cut, cut’ that was necessary but to grow a business, you need to fertilise and nurture your talent. If you do, you will have a strong culture that will attract good people. If you don’t, you will reap the rewards of a barren, dry landscape.
It’s a cliché to say “People are my best asset” Perhaps, perhaps not. What’s beyond doubt is that they are necessary and therefore they hold your future in their hands. That alone needs to inform your strategy.
It’s an illusion to chase the ‘perfect’ employee. They don’t exist, they are human and humans have flaws. It’s clever to recruit talent and know the failings but a few quick lessons might guide your thinking.
First, when you recruit, never design the job around the person. The role comes first and how many times have you swayed from the goal to accommodate their needs?
Secondly, when you are seeking the ‘right’ person for your job, ask yourself this; “Why are they available?” Or, put it another way, the people you really want shouldn’t be available.
Third is the art and the science. People get mesmerised by personality and worldly appearance. Don’t. You are not looking for a sharp suit or good looks, you are looking for someone to do what you can’t. Combine instinct with a deep dive into track record. That eliminates risky choices.
Today, more than ever, loyalty is a precious currency. Like trust, you don’t bestow loyalty, you earn it. Remember, followers imitate leaders and a ruthless captain may end up falling on his own sword. Loyalty does not mean money; it goes far deeper than that. It’s about opportunity, culture, a future and values. How are you on all of the above? Do you deserve my loyalty? Better still, have you earned it?
Good people have one thing in common that shines above everything else. They want to learn. If you want to recruit, hold on to and then grow your best asset, you have to invest in their learning, their development and their growth. It’s no coincidence that the thirstiest learners I work with are our Management Development Programme students. Better still, the fact that they are there reveals lots about their leader, their organisation and their values. If there is no room to grow and learn, your diamond will seek polishing elsewhere.
Finally, empty promises of a bright future somewhere over the rainbow are fatal. As an industry, the challenge is always to under promise and over deliver. We buy that and we believe it. Wouldn’t it be a really good idea to apply that to your rising stars too?
Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves”