Launching your startup doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Trial and error will play a huge part in the development and success of your business - and that’s ok. Some would even say that learning on the fly is part of the thrill of being a founder.
But one place you can’t afford to make mistakes is in finding the right leadership team. The devastating effects - both financial and cultural - of putting the wrong people in charge can take even the best startups years to overcome.
As traditional workplace culture shifts from authoritative policies to employee engagement and open dialogue, you’ll need leaders who inspire and empower your team. Follow these guidelines for hiring conscious leaders who care and watch your team, your success, and your vision thrive.
Let’s start at the beginning. As you develop a search process for leaders, be sure that it’s mission-driven. That means making sure every step (from the job-posting to the interview to the final decision) is motivated by your values and your vision, not just your needs. View your candidates through a prism of what impact they’ll bring to your culture instead of what skills they’ll add to your roster.
One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make when sourcing leaders is to focus too narrowly on prior achievements, technical skills, and other traditional indicators of value. Taking a 360-degree approach to hiring leaders means looking beyond those metrics to uncover how a candidate understands and values peoples’ needs. These interview questions are a great resource for hiring smart, experienced people who understand and motivate others.
Emotional intelligence when hiring is founded on a simple concept: people who understand and manage their own and others’ emotions make better leaders. Communication, capacity for teamwork, empathy, and self-awareness are just a few of the soft-skills that contribute to emotional intelligence. As workplaces focus less on hierarchical models and more on open-engagement, emotional intelligence is becoming the new benchmark to identify effective leadership. In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report names emotional intelligence as one of the top ten job skills in 2020. Quizzes like this can be a valuable tool for gauging emotional intelligence in your leadership candidates.
No matter what they do for a living, every good leader is in the service industry. It just so happens that they serve their direct reports. Servant-leaders believe that they exist to put their team in the best possible place to perform, succeed, and achieve fulfillment in the workplace. Attaining more power, career advancement, and other individual motivators are secondary. Servant-leadership is an art - not a skill - and when it’s done right, the company and its culture benefit the most.
We don’t recommend including your entire team in the final decision when hiring leadership, but we do suggest pooling feedback from everyone who had contact with a candidate throughout the hiring process. You’re looking for someone who will complement the team, so gathering their insights (even something as simple as first impressions when greeting a candidate at the door) can offer a more holistic view of a candidate's fit. As an added benefit, you’ll show your employees that you value their opinions and happiness at work.
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