What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
That is one of the questions we ask in our in-depth interview with potential candidates. Some candidates, quickly assessing the risk-reward of an off-the-mark answer, try to guess what we want to hear. If you look at them, you can see the mental wheels working at high speed.
Something to consider, any time you start trying to figure what the recruiter wants to hear, versus the real best advice you have ever been given, you are in trouble.
And more advice, as important as the first: be authentic. We have all received guidance regarding our careers. If you are ever asked that question, share what resonated with you. The only thing worse than playing outguess the recruiter is to admit no one has offered you career counseling, or worse still, you can’t remember anything specific.
One of the best answers I have heard in recent years is this:
When you start a new job find a mentor or a coach, someone you respect who will tell you the truth and help you grow.
Simple and to the point, and it is probably the best advice that anyone can offer.
Whether you are a newly appointed CEO or a first year consultant, you need someone to help you maintain balance and perspective.
In this new era of healthcare, with the pace of change rapidly gaining momentum, the jobs we undertake, and the rules that govern what we do and how we do it, are also changing.
The smart organizations, that is to say those with the best chance of surviving healthcare reform, will be the ones, big or small, that invest in helping their people grow — providing access to outside coaches, or producing this type of leadership development service internally.
At the end of the day, success will be driven by these factors
To achieve these objectives, an organization must hire, develop and retain the best people. At a time when organizations are focusing on expense reduction, not investing in developing employees is beyond pennywise and pound foolish. More broadly, mediocre leaders and managers who see their work as a job not as a profession in which the highest standards of performance must be achieved, simply will not survive.
Organizations that do not invest in their people won’t fare much better.
© 2014 John Gregory Self
There are executives who think they are important to an organization and there are those who really are.
The demands and ego posturing of the former usually far exceed the quantifiable and subjective value they bring to the enterprise. The latter are those who consistently deliver excellent results and can and will do more, if asked.
Great leaders know which is what, and reward those truly talented executives who can and will do more without all the distractions and drama of the executive/politicians. They routinely reach down into the organization — directly and indirectly — to let that individual know they are valued. They create an enterprise-wide talent evaluation system that rewards the people who consistently deliver and, if necessary, weed out those prima donnas who are threatened or who want to take all the credit.
A bad leader values relationships, and sometimes the sparkly flash over results, and takes advantage of the real value generators by not rewarding them financially, or, worse, having them report to mediocre, insecure talent. Those who think they are important are more likely to usurp the credit for great ideas and, in the end, drive off the real contributors.
When a leader tolerates the pretenders and allows the real achievers to languish in that kind of toxic environment, they are setting the table for the beginning of the end. When a business fails, more often than not, the genesis of this failure can be traced to a bad leader who was tone deaf in assessing talent.
Or, he or she was so insecure that they surrounded themselves with executives who just thought they were important.
© 2014 John Gregory Self
Ask the Recruiter is a regular feature. We answer questions we receive from active candidates, those considering making a change or those in active transition. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been in a senior leadership position for a specialty physician practice for four years. I have accomplished everything I set out to do with the board when I arrived. There is no opportunity for financial or scope of responsibility advancement. I have a real interest in moving into a more entrepreneurial enterprise. How do I go about building contacts to make that transition?
Many start-ups or early stage companies prefer to do their own recruiting — either with internal resources, or through connections with their venture capital backers. There are firms that specialize in this type of search but before you go flailing away, develop a plan. The first step is to decide on what segment of the business sector you want to focus — where your experience skills and accomplishments would resonate the most. Then begin networking through LinkedIn and other resources to identify early funders who understand the importance of securing top talent to shepherd their investment as well as building your own connections. Use LinkedIn to get introductions. Have your value position down pat, one that emphasizes your quantifiable achievements, hopefully those that are transferable, or at least in the neighborhood of what the new company is doing, or trying to do.
There are numerous search firms with deep contacts in the venture capital world that are always scouting for new talent who can take an idea, build a business plan and execute flawlessly. But do not expect them to rush to meet you. Most are overwhelmed with talent trying to get in the door, so having someone make an introduction — a former client or candidate — is always nice.
This type of career transition is challenging but many executives have successfully crossed that career bridge. It takes time, a lot of research and aggressive networking. It helps to have a resume that is tailored to the client’s needs and demonstrates your record of success in terms of quantifiable metrics. Do not expect to get a bigger salary on the front end — it is all about the risk — but the back side financial rewards can indeed be staggering. It is always nice if the investors have done this before.
© 2014 John Gregory Self