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The Number 1 Leadership Competency
Posted by Nicky Coffin
At Centredexcellence we run a number of different programmes for recruitment professionals, from how to succeed as an independent, to our flagship Billing Manager and Recruitment Director Mastermind events and groups.
One key area we always focus on? Developing leadership capabilities.
Being a great leader is what will make the difference between your success and failure, not only for your growing organisation but also you as an individual.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review on this specific topic was based on a study of 195 leaders across 30 global organisations. They were asked what specific leadership competencies did they consider the most important to develop and exhibit when it came to leading.
I am going to share one specific area that in my experience as a leader and coach has the biggest impact on how you perform as a leader.
Here it is …….
Successful leaders demonstrate strong ethics and create a sense of safety
This is a fascinating topic and one that I see time and time again working well and not so well!
It was the number one theme in the research. Fundamentally it’s about creating a safe and trusting environment.
On a simple level it’s about being a leader with high ethical standards who is fair and instils confidence that they will ALWAYS play the game fairly AND ask for this same commitment from their team.
Consistency is vital here.
Who hasn’t experienced that manager who is unpredictable? Great when everything is going well and yet who suddenly becomes Mr or Ms Nasty if certain ‘things’ in the business aren’t going their way. It’s an emotive word and the term bully springs to mind.
Fairness is a key attribute of a strong leader. The challenge for many recruitment leaders is their lack of structure, process and consistency; particularly if they have experienced rapid growth.
Remember fairness is about treating everyone in the same way. Here is a classic example that illustrates the point.
Let’s say that in your organisation you have an incentive that if your recruiters hit a certain activity level they can finish at 1 pm on a Friday. All good.
Then you realise that you have to honour this with everyone in the team. Jane (not your favourite person and the team gossip) and John have both hit the ‘finish early goal’.
Though Jane might not be your favourite recruiter in the team, if she has hit the target, she warrants as much fuss being made of her achievement as does John, who is one of your favourite recruiters in the team.
Fact: Being fair is about communicating expectations for everyone in the business and sticking to them.
Whether that is a documented induction plan that every recruitment consultant goes through or a career development plan that is actively used.
This can even boil down to the incentive scheme you have in place. Do you move the goal posts if people are over or under achieving? I have seen this one happen more than once, and people then experience inconsistency and at an unconscious level it starts to ‘wobble’ them.
This might surprise you and your employees have an inherent need to feel ‘safe’. Structure, consistency, process and fairness will enable this to happen.
In this safe environment your recruiters will relax, which then means they can tap into the brains higher capacity for ambition, drive, engagement and innovation.
If they don’t feel safe the classic flight and fight reaction kicks in that all human beings have. The stimulus doesn’t need to be a hairy toothed tiger either.
Neuroscience confirms this. When a specific part of the brain (the amygdala) registers a threat to our safety, arteries harden and thicken to handle an increased blood flow to our limbs in preparation for a fight-or-flight response.
In this state, we lose access to another important part of the brain which controls our drive and ability to strive for excellence.
So from a science perspective, making sure that people in your recruitment organisation feel safe should be the no 1 job for leaders in your organisation.
Your starting point?
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Review your organisational vision and goal and communicate it consistently
- Decide on the behaviours your company wants to see
- Have a system and process that is documented and that you follow
- Ask for feedback from your team about how you are doing ( scary and well worth it)
High performing consultants are the lifeblood of any successful recruitment organisation. The challenge starts when your recruiters underperform. There is a solution and I cover it in-depth in my latest ebook; How to Convert Your under Performers to Consistent Billers in 14 Days or less. You can download it here.