Top Ten Attributes of a Successful Human Being
Quick: Would you trust the guy in this photo? Yes or No.
Regardless of your answer, how come you’ve said yes or no? What tells you that?
Knowing you can spot these signals could save you a lot of time, energy and money. For the record, I think he has a hidden agenda in how he is smiling.
25 years ago, I lost the ownership of my first software company in a dispute with an investor who did not trust that we would be able to deliver a beta version in the time frame he thought was appropriate. He thought he could do it better if he had total control.
[Memo: Only bring in Investors who have experience (or display a genuine willingness to be curious!!) in your particular industry and who communicate well… otherwise they will become a major distraction to your actual business productivity.]
After we lost the lawsuit, he said to me, “You know this isn’t personal, it’s just business. Why don’t you come work for me?”
To me, how you play the game of business is very personal because it’s all about how you choose to show up, how you connect and how you engage people in a way that engenders trust. Trust allows critical information to flow both ways.
He chose not to trust because he didn’t choose to communicate. He chose to believe his assumptions… and then his fears got the better of him. But back then, we weren’t supposed to talk about these reactions because it’s just business… emotion shouldn’t play a role.
We all lost a lot because of his knee jerk reactions.
Today, are we any more able to talk about the elephant in the room? How well we deal with our emotional reactions (to assumptions we haven’t validated) play out in every interaction we have.
If we can’t talk about the influence of them, then we can’t resolve the impacts emotional reactions have on the projects we are engaged in.
Which brings me to the topic of success and why I’m writing this post. James Altucher interviewed 80 people about how they became successful… the little things that add up to the day when the big breakthrough moment hits.
What did he discover? Success in a nutshell is all about being able to tap into your emotional reactions and pull out the learning so you can take a better, different approach next time.
Unpacking this baggage is what removes the barriers to growth, personal or business.
So why should you care about this when looking for your next manager you are counting on to lead an area of your business?
We’re often called to review recruiting strategies for hiring significant managers and leaders when our clients want to grow their business to the next level. Hiring right is vital when you need to build a management team that can take over for the owners so the business becomes transferrable and then saleable.
Often what is missing from the process is a profile of the kind of person you really want in that role.
The focus is on skill sets, experience and attitude rather than the ability to manage emotional reactions in themselves and others and learn from it.
Worse, because the profile doesn’t point out what flags to look for you might not notice the very qualities and habits that really need to be put under the magnifying glass.
Our friends at PeopleFirstSolutions (who specialize in recruiting GMs for owners wanting more freedom by making the company saleable) say that a bad hire can cost you five times their salary as goodwill, team bonding and trust starts to breakdown under the weight of projected assumptions and their best friend, emotional reactions.
Here’s my top ten list for how to find a successful human being.
n the interview process, these characteristics will be revealed by the stories your candidates choose to tell you about.
Listen to the language they use to describe their experiences. Self-reflective people have learned from their experiences and as a result can articulate their stories more meaningfully. How come they can do that? They listen to their own feelings rather than projecting their angst on others.
People who have not processed their lives can’t describe their learning without using clichéd or vague statements or telling the story where they have cast their colleagues in the hero, victim or villain role.
- Resilient: Can describe how they deal with the daily slings and arrows of life like rejection and bounce back without a hardened heart.
- Able to guide themselves: can describe how they break habits, aspire to new goals and achieve them, self-motivate, find a way through… without leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
- Kind and compassionate with self and others: Able to describe how they lead and nurture people (or treat them poorly). This desire to be kind extends to the idea of being of service which means they will attend to the details to ensure a complete customer experience.
- Communicative: They know how to say what’s so in a tactful and helpful way that inspires action, not reaction. Give them a scenario with a client and ask them to act out how they would deal with it as if you were the client. Being willing to role play shows they don’t take themselves too seriously … high self-esteem.
- Curiosity: they like to learn about people, how things work, how people got to where they are, what they like and are inspired by others journeys to ask questions in such a way that people respond to. Equally vital: they check out their assumptions before reacting to them. Ask them to interview you and see how you like the experience.
- Helpful: they know how to help effectively when it’s needed, rather than being the hero by rescuing people. Ask them to help you with something and see how they get involved. They are able to offer people choices or ideas, not take away the job and do it for them.
- Tolerance for Uncertainty: they can roll with the flow, change their routine, get out of their comfort zone and still be able to function… and maybe even learn from it.
- Self-reflective: can learn from their mistakes and recognize the pot hole before falling in it again… and tell the story from a position of power, lightness, or humility and even maybe a sense of humour.
- Problem solving ability: When the “day falls apart” where will they take themselves? They should be able to recount several examples of how they got themselves out of a jam.
- Focused on What Matters: They can pick out the right priority and get going on making it happen. Give them a bunch of problems and a context in a typical day. Ask them to tell you what they would make a priority, why and what they would do to get started.
So you might be wondering if I took the job the investor offered me to keep running the company I started that he now owned.
Nope. He demonstrated to me in spades that he did not know how to build a business.
He didn’t know how to be part of a team. He wanted control but he didn’t realize that he gave away his ability to control when he couldn’t communicate his concerns in a proactive way without making people wrong… which is what robs the team of trust, goodwill and then the company’s ability to grow.
His actions taught me how you destroy value inside a business.
So what do you think: Is business personal? What’s your experience? Your comments are welcomed to get the conversation flowing.