Every organization needs leadership – there are only two ways to meet the need: hire them or grow your own. The right answer for most organizations is a combination of these two approaches. Today’s Challenge is from a leader who asked, “How do you attract leaders?”
I’ll start by saying “attracting leaders” may represent a mindset that needs to change. I’m not sure you “attract them” as much as you seek them out. You pursue them! Yes, over time, you may create a reputation that would entice leaders to seek you out. However, for most organizations that day is in the distant future. For now, you will probably need to be more proactive. Here are a few ideas…
Target leaders – If you want leaders to join your organization the best approach is to recruit leaders. If you don’t focus your efforts on leaders, you will likely have a small percentage of your applicants who can actually lead. I’ve worked with leaders for years who understand this. They don’t just recruit football players and cheerleaders, they recruit the captain of the team. They want the leader.
Clarify your profile – One reason some people have trouble convincing leaders to join their team is the ambiguity around the profile. When you say “leadership” what do you mean? Does everyone on your team understand your working definition? If not, you may waste a lot of time recruiting and interviewing men and women who don’t meet the basic criteria to begin with. For more on this topic you may want to check out The Secret.
Offer real opportunities to lead – If you decide to recruit leaders, you’ll have to offer more than a job. Leaders want to lead. What are you willing to give to a new leader to lead? If not immediately, when can your new hire assume a real leadership role? Tell them what they can expect and when. If you are fortunate enough to land a real leader and you don’t give him or her the ball, chances are good you will lose them.
Invest in their personal growth – If you currently invest in the personal growth of your existing leaders, tell your candidates. Share sample development plans from other leaders on your team. Tell them about your process and plans to help them grow. Let them know your intention to add value to their life beyond the job. Remind them that when you become a better leader at work, the benefits also show up everywhere else they go for the rest of their life.
Let potential hires spend time with your existing leaders – This is a chance for your existing leaders to validate all you have told a candidate. Your message will have new resonance when it is echoed by a leader who has experienced all you’ve told the potential new hire. Be sure to allow the candidate ample time to ask questions during the process. The more the better!
A final word of encouragement… The war for leadership talent is real. However, you must fight the temptation to lower the bar when selecting leaders. Everything rises and falls on leadership. If you lower the bar on your leadership, you lower the bar for your entire organization.[GLS_Shield]