Recruiting is the first and most important task in developing people and creating winning organizations. You can’t develop people without potential—no matter how hard you work at it. So the people you recruit must possess natural ability in the area where they are to be developed, exhibit the desire to grow, and be a good fit for the organization.
The key to success in recruiting is a clear picture of who you are looking for. Recruiting a non-leader to be developed in leadership is like asking a horse to climb a tree. It just isn’t going to happen. If you want a potential tree climber, find a squirrel. If you want a potential leader, find someone with the traits of a good leader. When you go looking for potential leaders, use what is called the Four Cs.
If you don’t like the person, you will not be an effective mentor to him or her. It’s very difficult to spend time with people, be open with them, and invest in them if you don’t like them and want to be around them. If you are seriously considering recruiting or promoting someone, ask members of your team to spend time with that individual, preferably in a social setting. After they’ve been around the person, find out if your team likes and would enjoy working with him or her. If not, there may not be a good fit.
Good character makes trust possible. Trust makes strong relationships possible. Strong relationships make mentoring possible. You won’t be able to develop someone whose character you do not trust. Character is what closes the gap between knowing and doing. It aligns intentions and action. That consistency is appealing, and it is also essential to good, credible leadership. Jim Rohn observed, “Good people are found, not changed.” If you go into a mentoring relationship expecting to change a person’s character, you’re liable to be disappointed.
If you want to develop people and help them become good leaders, you must not ask for what they wish they could give, only for what they have the potential to give. As you look at potential leaders, try to assess their capacity in the following areas:
Stress Management—their ability to withstand and overcome pressure, failure, deadlines, and obstacles
Skill—their ability to get specific tasks done
Thinking—their ability to be creative, develop strategy, solve problems, and adapt
Leadership—their ability to gather followers and build a team
Attitude—their ability to remain positive and tenacious amid negative circumstances
As a leader, your goal should be to identify the capacities of potential leaders, recognize what they think their capacities are, and motivate, challenge, and equip them in such a way that they close the gap between the two.
Some people possess an X factor. They are winners. They contribute beyond their job responsibilities, and they lift the performance of everyone on their team. When you discover people with these characteristics, recruit them. They are a joy to develop, and whatever you put into them returns to you many times over.
Most leaders spend their time and energy on the wrong people: the bottom 20 percent. The individuals who usually take up most of a leader’s time are the troublemakers, the complainers, and those who are struggling. These people often have the least potential to lead others and take the organization forward. Great leaders focus their best time and energy on the top 20 percent, the people who don’t need attention but would most profit from it.