“Ultreya!” Dan McCarthy, a close friend and no relation, introduced that word into my vocabulary. Here’s how. This past April, Dan set out on a walking pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port, a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees in Southern France and the gateway to northwestern Spain. On the first day he walked fifteen miles up to the pass of Roncesvalles at about 4,500 feet above sea level. The next day he began six weeks of walking on el Camino de Santiago, the Way of Santiago, the 1,200 year old, 500 mile pilgrimage road to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James at Compostela, in Galatia, in the northwest corner of Spain. “A frequent conversation opener on the Camino is, ‘Why are you making the pilgrimage?’ or, “Why ultreya?’ Ultreya is a pilgrim cheer meaning to the end, or, go for it.
Ultreya is a great starting point for this last article, Command Training, in our series of Back to Basics. Go for it. Go for the gold. Be all that you can be. Great motivators for people in our industry, who want to make a difference and are driven to succeed. Leadership is the cornerstone of success in the military. Many readers will remember or have heard discussions about the NCO Academy, Officers Candidate School, Command and General Staff School, Army War College all dedicated to training military leaders.
Effective, informed leadership is critical to success in the placement industry. In this article we will present: an overview with comments on a few of Colin Powell’s 18 Lessons on Leadership (The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell by Oren Harari); then cite a few business axioms; and conclude with some tips for success.
Vince Lombardi believed that “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” Colin Powell in his Lesson One: Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off, states, “Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions.” Do leaders/owners in our industry:
–Waffle on the tough decisions
–Avoid going toe-toe with people who need to be confronted
—Try to please everyone with their decisions
—Look at what is either right or wrong with tinted lenses?
Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment (Lesson Three). Do leaders/owners in our industry:
—Get so far away from the trenches that they forget what it takes to run a desk
—Stray from their work ethic and forget that the same work ethic made them successful
—Set weird company policies based on whim rather than the good of the company
— Waste staff member time by insisting that they do it the old way?
Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant (Lesson Five). Do leaders/owners in our industry:
—Keep their eye on the ball; know where the business is; dare to try new things
—Instruct, delegate, supervise, and measure
—Let top producers stray from operational details or policy
—Safeguard the routine and activity level; do they lead by example?
Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds (Lesson Eight). Do leaders/owners in our industry:
—Attract the best and the brightest and give them the tools to succeed
—Respect and value team members
—Create a welcoming, inclusive environment
—Share the wealth; reward people?
“Powell’s Rules for Picking People” Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high-energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done. Do leaders/owners in our industry:
—Evaluate prospective staff members as honestly as they assess candidates for clients
—Recognize that staff development must be a core competency
—Commit more than 30% of their time to selecting and training top people
—Ask themselves about each staff person, “How good is this person at getting things done?”
—Overlook that the quality of their people is the best competitive differentiator?
(Borrowed by Powell from Michael Korda): Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand! Do leaders/owners in our industry:
—Practice the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid
—Let their egos get in the way of good instruction and clear direction
—Energize or sap the energy from their staff
—Have PhDs in ambiguity and encourage CYA defenses from their staff
A few business axioms learned over the years from my role models in the industry:
—Never lose sight of what it takes to make a placement return to the trenches
—“Being in play” join associations, get active in the community, be involved, stay out of the “fast check out lane,” give back
—Do favors for people favors first this will make you different
—You can make a great living, if you don’t get greedy
—Remember that the job no leader should delegate is making sure you have the right people in the right place
—Know your competition
—Celebrate successes with your whole team. There are lots of opportunities for good recruiters to become attracted to new and exciting recruiting firms
—As Vince Lombardi said: “Mental toughness is essential to success.”
—Follow-through is the key to execution; every leader who is good at executing follows through and always does what she says she is going to do.
—Get things done through others but be sure to reward them and give them credit
—Believe and practice the continuous improvement and training of your staff and, most importantly, yourself
—Make sure that people don’t stay at your firm just for the money
—Stay in touch with everyone! Don’t stop being in play and networking until you are lowered into your six by six condo!
There are thousands of “tips for success” offered by many self-proclaimed gurus in every industry and in every career. I will pass on just a couple learned from some top recruiters.
—“Mind your time. Once it’s gone, you’ll never get it back.” The telephone and the Internet are extraordinary tools but misuse is a killer. Know what information you need and get it in a timely, respectful manner. Who cares that she played the tuba in junior high?
—E-mail is so effective in identifying, sourcing, and recruiting candidates. Become an expert.
—Don’t forget about reference checking. Do it wisely and with consideration. Don’t waste people’s time. It is still an effective source of gaining new clients, branding your services, and building networks.
—Develop an expertise and in teleconferencing and video-conferencing
—Traditional interviews aren’t useful for spotting the qualities of leaders who execute.
—Lastly, the old chestnut: work hard. Abraham Lincoln said that, “things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Ultreya: hang in there and go for it!
I hope you didn’t think you would escape without a mention of the demise of the curse and a salute to the World Champions of Baseball: The Boston Red Sox. It is bad form to gloat. Besides, I have already done that to excess with lifelong friends and family in New York and New Jersey. How sweet it is!
There is so much to say but Paul Hawkinson would get out his red pen and that would be the ball game.
But I can’t let this glorious event slip away without a memorable line or two. After all, I have been a Red Sox fan since 1935 and fifteen of those years were lived in the environs of the Evil Empire. To show you the depths of our love for the Red Sox, let me quote from a sermon, given by the groom at his wedding ceremony, in church, which took place just before the recent World Series.
“I love baseball. However, my passion for baseball and the Red Sox are mostly internal. Sure, people know my team but I am not an in-your-face fan and I don’t feel that my love or passion for my team means any more or less than someone else’s love or passion for their team. I also don’t believe that they are stupid or ridiculous for believing in their team. (The fact that they are stupid or ridiculous is a separate issue.) Be that as it may, while I root for my team with an optimistic but guarded hope and suffer minor depressive episodes if they lose, I know that I walk with more humor, live with more confidence, and I’m happy, elevated and experience a healing when there is a win. But I resist the urge to call this a ‘religious experience’ because I firmly believe there should be a separation of church and stadium.
My friends and future friends, for some strange and mysterious reasons known only to God, I was drawn to my lovely bride, even when she was seduced by the Devil of success and became dare I say a Yankee fan. But time passed and her senses awakened to the arrogance of reality and this beautiful, passionate, incredibly humorous woman to my left for some strange and mysterious reasons known only to God has latched herself onto my blind passion for the Red Sox, cheering when I cheer and weeping internally, if I weep internally …”
That’s all folks but now you know! Amen.
A very happy and healthy holiday season to all!