5 Steps Toward Building Influence as a Great Thought Leader

Do you have something to say about a topic you are well versed in? If so, you could become an influential thought leader in your field of expertise.

Thought leaders are CEOs, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and other individuals who are respected for their knowledge and expertise and who have something to say and know how to say it. Thought leadership can spread awareness about the individual’s company while he or she develops a personal brand, influence and credibility. Just like building a business, becoming a recognized thought leader requires dedication and a strategy.

Here are five steps to take to help you build a strong thought-leadership campaign:

1. Clarify your purpose.

The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.

Do you want recognition? Do you want to earn credibility and respect from your peers and from the public? Do you want to offer advice and help people?

Figure out your purpose and why becoming a thought leader is important to you. Then build a strategy to support that purpose and your goals.

2. Identify your voice.

Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.

If you want to develop a strong voice and brand, ask yourself: What are my values? What do I stand for? What can I offer that isn’t obvious? What can people learn from me? Be clear and concise about your voice, your stances, your ideas and be sure that everything you do and say aligns with that.  Remember to stay true to who you are because the most successful thought leaders are authentic.

3. Write.

One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing contributed articles, op-eds and blog posts.

This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.

Do you have advice and tips for other entrepreneurs? Can you provide lessons that you learned while creating and running your business? Figure out how you can turn your experience and background into a learning opportunity for others and start writing!

4. Build an active online presence.

Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. A great thought leader understands how instrumental social media is in developing their voice. He or she looks for opportunities and groups to join and uses different platforms to talk about his or her expertise and becomes a part of relevant conversations.

Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Therefore, provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.

Be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.

5. Be a mentor.

Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.

Do you remember how much of an impact your mentor had on your life? Your mentor influenced who you are today as an entrepreneur and how you run your business. You have vast experience and are full of lessons and a wealth of knowledge that you could share with others to make an impact on their life and your own.

Great thought leaders are influential and affect the trajectory of popular topics and conversations. They have gained t he respect of their peers and the public and use their credibility to offer direction that others can benefit from. They understand the importance of building a sphere of influence and being recognized as an expert. Most important, thought leaders look for strategies to strengthen their position and share their views with others.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

4 Hiring Techniques Needed to Build a Stellar Team

One of the benefits of establishing your company culture first is that it gives you the opportunity to build your team to fit the culture. Managing a team takes much less energy and attention when you have people who intrinsically embrace the culture you are trying to build. As I said before, successful entrepreneurs hire for the long run — not just for today — avoiding the temptation to settle for people who aren’t “A” players and don’t fit the culture.

One great way to avoid that temptation is to require a sponsor for each person you hire. The sponsor has to stand up and say that he or she is going to be responsible for the person’s success and integration into the company. If you can’t get someone to sponsor a candidate, the person doesn’t get hired. Sometimes the hiring manager acts as the sponsor, and other times it might be someone else in the company.

I like to put potential candidates through a lot of interviews, typically with 8 to 12 people. No matter how much time you spend with a potential candidate you are never going to know that person as well as you could, or as well as he or she knows themselves. The real point of putting the person through so many interviews is to help the candidate get to know the company culture and empower them to make the decision about whether or not it’s the right place for them.  

Another way to help ensure you are hiring the right person is to start everyone on a form of trial for some period of time, say 30 to 90 days, sometimes as long as 180 days. At the end of that period, the team they work with then must vote for the person to stay — it’s not just the manager deciding or a formality.  Obviously, in hot job markets or for certain job categories that might be in tight supply, you may not be able to take this approach.

In addition to having the candidate interview with 8 to 12 people, consider a group interview as a hiring technique. By making the hiring process very robust, you are really ensuring you get someone in your company with the highest probability of fitting in and being successful.   As a side benefit, I’ve seen it prove out numerous times that challenging interview processes create stronger buy-in and commitment  and generally result in faster starts by the new employee – they worked hard to get accepted, and they want to capitalize on that investment!

Finally, involving the CEO and/or founders in the interview process has a powerful effect on the candidate’s perception of the company and the opportunity (as well as the culture).  It really makes them feel special, appreciated, and respected.  And there is nothing like a candidate going home to their significant other and bragging that they got to meet with the CEO or founders during their interview!

Bear in mind, not all of these approaches, and others you may learn about, may be right for the culture you are building – embrace what fits and don’t force things that don’t.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

What Successful Leaders Do in Challenging Times

If there is one thing consistent about business it’s the inconsistent dynamics of business. Great leaders can navigate turbulent business climates just as well as they can sail a calm sea of activity. Often they use those frenetic circumstances to capitalize and strip away competition. Sure, some of the successes that come from chaos are pure luck, but once you dig in to the stories you find out there were intentional key decisions that launched the team to exponential success.

Success or failure during times of peril depends on your ability to get your team moving with strength and confidence. Following are 8 examples where strength, focus and resolve will help you avoid the temptations that lead to failure in difficult times.

1. Temptation: To spread your sense of urgency and panic.

When a state of panic sets in, reactive leaders will ramp up the energy and stress. Some problems do need to be solved IMMEDIATELY. But if the boss is frantic and emotional, everyone else will be too, and efficiency will diminish.

What great leaders do instead: Learn to break the news calmly, while making the seriousness of the situation clear. Take a breath and carefully assess the situation so you can work with the team to clearly set the appropriate priorities. Then you can be effective and efficient internally as you deal with the outer chaos.

2. Temptation: To lay blame.

When something goes awry, people naturally start to ask, “Who did this? Whose fault is it?” It is good to know the root of the problem, but this often descends into counterproductive finger pointing. While everyone is focused on avoiding the burden of guilt, the situation may be going from bad to worse. A leader who allows or participates in the blame game ends up with a diminished team full of distrust.

What great leaders do instead: Help the team focus on moving forward. Ask “What do we need to do to recover quickly?” and then get the team working together to make those things happen. A team will be more successful by creating heroes who inspire others to step up.

3. Temptation: To let your emotions drive your response.

It may feel better to yell or bawl someone out when you’re angry or tense…at least it provides a momentary sense of release. But it does more harm than good in the long run. Your people become resentful or fearful and less likely to give you their best efforts, or bring you news that might trigger a tantrum.

What great leaders do instead: When your emotions flare, give yourself a moment to let your rational brain step in. Excuse yourself for a moment if you have to, or just take a few deep breaths. Find productive ways to channel the negative energy into positive results.

4. Temptation: To make assumptions.

In moments of small vexation or serious crisis, people often scramble to identify a cause, sometimes allowing existing assumptions to drive conclusions rather than facts. Do you actually know the reason the reports are not in the box? Are you sure the marketing people missed the deadline? Is IT really being lazy? If you have existing concerns or criticisms, it is especially easy to jump to conclusions that may or may not be accurate.

What great leaders do instead: Ask more questions that frame the big picture. Calm, value neutral questions allow you and others to diagnose what’s truly going on. Sometimes they know what caused a breakdown, sometimes they don’t, especially when there are a lot of moving parts in a lot of departments.Often a small issue that seems to be a choke point is only symptomatic of systemic issues that are largely hidden. Careful analysis with the team may surface core issues that can lead to exponential efficiencies.

5. Temptation: Topubliclyspeak critically of an imperfect employee.

Sometimes we all need to let of steam or grumble a bit when someone frustrates or lets us down. Doing that in front of the rest of the team spreads dissatisfaction and mistrust.

What great leaders do instead: If you really need to kvetch, do so privately, in a journal or with someone unrelated to the office. When you’re feeling calmer, approach the employee directly and politely but firmly share the truth about how they have fallen short.

6. Temptation: To withhold information.

If the truth is scary, it can be hard to share it with everyone for fear that panic will ensue and everyone will desert the ship. But if you leave them in the dark, your people are likely to fill in the blanks with even scarier conjecture. Most people will paint a more desperate picture when uncertainabout their own future.

What great leaders do instead: Give your people as much good information as the situation allows. Promise to keep them updated, and keep them focused on the work they CAN do, rather than worrying about what they CAN’T. That way you can lead them to success instead of managing their fears.

7. Temptation: To softball criticism.

Employees are people with thoughts and feelings, and it can be painful to watch them wilt under criticism. So rather than address their failings directly, it sometimes seems easier to drop oblique hints or bury suggestions under insincere praise.

What great leaders do instead: Tackle the hard stuff first, directly and without hesitation. If they don’t know they are creating a problem, they won’t know they have to fix it. You can follow up with encouragement and praise to soften the blow without muddling the message.

8. Temptation: To draw comparisons between employees.

“Try to be more like Tim.” “Adriana never leaves a customer on hold for more than five minutes.” We love our star players, and we want others to emulate them. Your employees probably know exactly what makes their co-workers shine. That does not mean everyone wants to be continually compared to the office favorites.

What great leaders do instead: Evaluate each employee on their own strengths and weaknesses, using a clear rubric that is fair and equal for all. Base your comparisons on an ideal, not any one person, as your standard. Then take the time to work with each team member to perform at their personal best. Sure you are busy, but showing the person they are a priority will motivate them beyond their fears and concerns.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

7 Habits of Remarkably Happy People

Want to be happier?

Great–but don’t just wish for a greater sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. Do something about it. Take a different approach. Adopt a different mindset.

And then let those beliefs guide your actions.

Here are some of the habits of remarkably happy people:

1. They choose (and it is a choice) to embrace who they really are.

None of us really likes how we look. So we try to hide who we really are with the right makeup and the right clothes and the occasional Mercedes. In the right setting and the right light, we’re happy.

But not when we’re at the beach. Or when we’re at the gym. Or when we have to run to the grocery store but feel self-conscious because we’re wearing ratty jeans and an old T-shirt and haven’t showered, and we think everyone is staring at us (even though they’re not). So we spend considerable time each day avoiding every possible situation that makes us feel uncomfortable about how we look or act.

And it makes us miserable.

In reality, no one cares how we look except us. (And maybe our significant others, but remember, they’ve already seen us at our worst, so that particular Elvis has definitely left the building.)

So do this. Undress, and stand in front of the mirror. (And don’t do the hip-turn shoulder-twist move to make your waist look slimmer and your shoulders broader.) Take a good look.That’s who you are. Chances are, you won’t like what you see, but you’ll probably also be surprised you don’t look as bad as you suspected.

If you don’t like how you look, decide what you’re willing to do about it and start doing it. But don’t compare yourself with a model or professional athlete; your only goal is to be a better version of the current you. (Remember, you can have anything, but you can’t have everything.)

Or, if you aren’t willing to do anything about what you see in the mirror, that’s also fine. Just move on. Let it go, and stop worrying about how you look. Stop wasting energy on something you don’t care about enough to fix.

Either way, remember that while the only person who really cares how you look is you, plenty of people care about the things you do.

Looking good is fun. Doing good makes you happy.

2. They never mistake joining for belonging.

Making connections with other people is easier than ever and not just through social media. Joining professional organizations or alumni groups, wearing company polo shirts or college sweatshirts, or even putting a window sticker with initials such as “HH” on your car to announce to the world you summer at Hilton Head Island… People try hard to show they belong, if only to themselves.

Most of those connections are superficial at best. If your spouse passes away, the alumni organization may send flowers. (OK, probably not.) If you lose your job, a professional organization may send you a nifty guide to networking. (OK, probably not, but they will send you the invoice when it’s time to renew your membership, so there is that to look forward to.) Anyone can buy, say, a Virginia Tech sweatshirt. (I didn’t go to Virginia Tech but I do have one. It was on sale.)

The easier it is to join something, the less it means to you. A true sense of belonging comes from giving, self-sacrifice, and effort. To belong, you have to share a common experience–the tougher the experience, the better.

Clicking a link lets anyone join; staying up all night to help meet a release date lets youbelong. Sending a donation gets anyone’s name in an event program; scrambling to feed hundreds of people at an over-crowded soup kitchen lets you belong to a group of people trying to make a difference.

Remarkably happy people do the work necessary to earn a group’s respect and trust–and in so doing truly become part of that group.

A genuine sense of belonging provides a sense of security and well-being even when you’re alone.

3. They accept they can have anything but not everything.

We can’t be everything we want to be. We can all achieve amazing things, but we can’t doeverything we set our minds to. Ability, resources, focus, and, most important, time are unavoidable limiting factors.

Remarkably happy people know themselves, know what is most important to them, and set out to achieve that. The rest they’re satisfied to do well–or to simply let go.

Pick a primary goal. Do your best to excel. Then accept that you can have other goals, but that “good” where those goals are concerned is truly good enough.

Try to have it all and your inability to actually have it all will make you feel like you have nothing.

4. They know business success does not guarantee fulfillment.

You can love your company, but it will never love you back. (Trite, but true.) No one lying on their death bed says, “I just wish I had spent more time at work…” Business success, no matter how grand, is still fleeting.

Fulfillment comes from achieving something and knowing it will outlive you: raising great kids, being a part of a supportive extended family, knowing you have helped others and changed their lives for the better…

Work hard on your business. Work harder on things you can someday look back on with even more pride–and personal satisfaction.

5. They have someone to call at 2 a.m.

Years ago, I lived in a house beside a river. Then a flood caused my house to be in the river. I had about an hour to move as much stuff as I could, and I called my friend Doug. I knew he would come, no questions asked.

I’m sure you have lots of friends, but how many people do you feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night if you need help? How many people do you know whom you can tell almost anything and they won’t laugh? How many people do you feel comfortable sitting with for an hour without either of you speaking?

Most of us wear armor that protects us from insecurity. Our armor also makes us lonely, and it’s impossible to be happy when we’re lonely.

Remarkably happy people take off their armor and make real friends. It’s easier than it sounds, because other people are dying to make real friends, too.

Don’t worry; they’ll like the real you. And you’ll like the real them.

And all of you will be much happier.

6. They never mistake structure for control.

Most of what we do, especially in business, is based on trying to gain control: processes, guidelines, strategies. Everything we plan and implement is designed to control the inherently uncontrollable and create a sense of security in a world filled with random events. (Did I just go all philosophical?)

Eventually, those efforts fall short, because structure never equals control. No matter how many guidelines we establish for ourselves, we often step outside them–otherwise we’d all be slim, trim, fit, and rich. Diets and budgets and five-year plans fall apart, and we get even more frustrated because we didn’t achieve what we hoped.

To-do lists and comprehensive daily schedules are helpful, but you only make real progress toward a goal when it means something personal to you.

Deciding what you really want to do and giving it your all is easier. Plus, you’ll feel a real sense of control, because this time you really care.

And when you truly care–about anything–you’re a lot happier.

7. They never stop failing.

Most of us do everything we can to avoid failure, a natural instinct that leaves an unnatural byproduct–we start to lose the ability to question our decisions.

And we lose the ability to see our business and ourselves from the employee’s point of view. The ability to run a company and lead others is compromised when we lose perspective on what it’s like to not have all the answers–and what it’s like to make mistakes.

So go out and fail, but not in the way you might think. Forget platitudes such as, “In business, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.” Business failures cost time and money that most of us don’t have. (My guess is “Failure” doesn’t appear as a line item in your operating budget.)

Instead, fail at something outside your business. Pick something simple that doesn’t take long. Set a reach goal you know you can’t reach. If you normally run a mile, try to run three. If you play a sport, play against people a lot better than you. If you must choose a business task, pick something you hate to do and therefore don’t do well. Whatever you choose, give it your all. Leave no room for excuses.

Remarkably happy people often try things for which they can only be judged on their own merits–and are often found wanting. Why?

Failure isn’t defeating; failure is motivating. Failure provides a healthy dose of perspective, makes us more tolerant and patient, and makes us realize we’re a lot like the people around us.

When you realize you aren’t so different or special after all, it’s a lot easier to be happy with the people around you–and, just as important, to be happier with yourself.


-Courtesy: Inc.com

The Unexpected Trait That Moves Leaders From Good to Great

In the popular imagination, successful leaders are not shy flowers. Confidence and bluster–sometimes in excess–are more likely to be associated with executives and other top business leaders.

But, it turns out, what we imagine we want from a leader and what actually makes one effective in real life are often at odds. Now a new study has confirmed what other researchers have been insisting–quieter, less remarked on traits determine the success of those at the top more often than highlyvisible qualities like charm and conviction.

The latest research published in Administrative Science Quarterly looked at the leaders of 63 Chinese companies and their employees and discovered that, when it comes to high functioning teams, the humility of leaders is key.

The Power of Being Humble

In case you need a working definition, the study authors note that “humility is manifested in self-awareness, openness to feedback, appreciation of others, low self-focus, and pursuit of self-transcendence. Humble people willingly seek accurate self-knowledge and accept their imperfections while remaining fully aware of their talents and abilities. They appreciate others’ positive worth, strengths, and contributions and thus have no need for entitlement or dominance over others.”

Accepts feedback? Appreciates others? Focused on service not self? Clear-headed about their limitations? Appealing qualities all, so perhaps it’s no wonder than humility, though undersung, is so powerful. But what exact effect did it have? PsyBlog sums up the researchers’ findings: “CEOs who were humble were more likely to empower the top management team, which in turn enabled the management team to be better integrated. The empowering organisational climate then trickled down through the middle managers which increased their job performance, commitment and engagement with work.”

No Shortage of Evidence

Lest you think this is only true in culturally distinct China, PsyBlog also stresses that earlier studies here in the U.S. uncoveredmuch the same thing. One study of Fortune 1000 executives “found that one important factor which lifted leaders from ‘good to great’ was modesty,” for instance.

This isn’t the first time humility has come up as a leadership essential here on Inc.com either. We’ve featured experts insisting the key to bringing out greatness in your team is to stop acting like a stereotypical leader and focus on letting others shine instead, quoted Harvard professors on leading less and following more, and covered research out of Google showing one of the most essential traits of successful leaders is also one of the most boring–being predictable and getting out of people’s way.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

6 Things Really Great Leaders Always Do

Nothing is forever, especially when it comes to business. What worked well yesterday may not work quite so well tomorrow. This means that leaders must constantly be alert to ways to optimize their businesses in fast-changing markets and environments. Those who don’t change with the times will soon find themselves left behind in the dust of their competitors.

To set the pace and stay ahead of the rest of the pack, great leaders always do the following things:

1. Constantly renew focus and revise goals

All performance starts with clear goals and expectations. Great leaders regularly prioritize and reevaluate existing company and employee goals–ideally with those most responsible for attaining them–and ensure they are focused on those things that matter most to the company and its customers. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; a related version is to continue doing the same things even though the environment you operate in has significantly changed. Doing things differently begins with reviewing and revising goals, then regularly checking progress and revising those goals as necessary.

2. Emphasize information and communication

People want to know what’s going on in their organizations–both the good news and the bad. Many leaders naturally err on the side of becoming more closed and secretive–not wanting to either alarm employees or look like they are not in control of the situation. This is a mistake. Great leaders communicate more–not less–and this communication is both strategic (“Here’s where the organization is heading and here’s what we’re doing about it.”) as well as personal (“Here’s the role we need you to play in this new product initiative.”).

3. Encourage involvement and initiative

Employee involvement requires a level of rigor that shows the company is serious about doing things differently and tapping into the potential that every employee has to offer. Whether at the group or individual level (or both), great leaders seek out and find new ways for their organizations to do things differently: better, faster, cheaper and smarter–and they actively seek ideas from their employees, take them seriously, and implement these ideas whenever practical.

4. Provide autonomy and flexibility

Every employee needs to have a say in how they do their work to make it more meaningful. This helps them to become more engaged and effective. Once a great leader enlists his employees to get involved and make suggestions and improvements, he encourages them to run with their ideas, take responsibility, and champion those ideas though to completion.

5. Engage in action learning and application

New leaders need to come forward in all levels of the organization, which leads to this question: Who have you trained to step up to the plate? Great leaders identify promising new leaders, and then they provide them with the opportunities they need to learn and build leadership skills on the job. They do this by taking an action-oriented approach to helping employees develop the new skills and responsibilities they need to become tomorrow’s leaders.

6. Recognize and praise

Positive consequences equal positive results. While companies may not have the budget for extensive celebrations and rewards, this should not deter them from recognizing employees in a timely, sincere, and specific way when those employees have done good work. Fortunately, the things employees most need to feel valued in today’s workplace tend to be more intangible and personal in nature with little, if any, financial cost. Great leaders know that a simple verbal thank-you or written note of appreciation can go a very long way.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

5 Signs You’re in the Wrong Profession

Having a certain degree or job title or being in a specific industry for several years (or even decades) doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. More and more people are having multiple careers these days, and it’s ridiculous to assume that 18-year-olds know what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they choose a major. If you’re not in the right profession, change it.

However, maybe you’re just burned out and not really in the wrong career. Unfortunately, there’s no actual test to tell you if you’re in the perfect career or not–but there are signs. Maybe what was the right career 10 years ago just no longer aligns with your passions, interests, or where you want to be. Consider these signs that you’re in the wrong profession, and take a close look at your professional life.

1. The work is nothing like what you studied.

Sometimes, studying a field and actually practicing it are two different things. Maybe it was the program at your university that you really loved, not the glimpse into the career. Perhaps the world of academia is more suited to you, and you should look into teaching rather than practicing. There are many ways studies don’t translate to careers, so know when to recognize when this has happened.

2. You struggle just to stay mediocre.

Usually, people enjoy what they’re good at. If you’re not good at your profession, even though you work diligently and try to keep pace, maybe the real problem is that it’s just not for you. This is particularly common in prestigious positions, such as physician or attorney. Sometimes, people get into a field for the wrong reason (such as the glory), when they neither enjoy it nor are they naturally skilled at it.

3. You don’t love it.

Nobody loves what they do 100 percent of the time, but you should enjoy it at least 51 percent of the time. If you’re not loving your field, and it’s not just an issue with a particular job, that’s a huge red flag. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, try getting a new job in a similar vein but at a different company. You’ll be able to tell which is which immediately.

4. You take a lot of sick days and can’t wait for paid holidays.

Everyone looks forward to vacations, and who says no to a three-day weekend? However, if you’re counting down the minutes to when you can go home and are desperately looking forward to President’s Day because it’s a day off for you, your priorities are out of whack. Maybe you’re not lazy or a poor worker, but perhaps it’s that you’re in the wrong field.

5. You dread getting asked what you do.

It’s the most common first-date and icebreaker conversation starter, but if you’re internally rolling your eyes and trying to get past the subject right away, that’s a sign you’re unhappy.

Simply put, life’s too short to be in the wrong job. Whether it’s going back to school, interning, or job searching, make the decision to change things starting today.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

6 Selling Secrets That Will Help You Hire Stronger People

Just as for any sales process, there’s a funnel for recruiting: moving prospects and candidates from first contact, through the recruiting and assessment process, and ultimately into great hires.

The big steps are summarized in the graphic below. And, just as in sales, the more complex the process, the more steps in the process.

The “recruiting funnel,” as shown in this graphic from The Adler Group.

In recruiting, when the demand for talent is greater than the supply, all of the steps shown in the funnel are required. When the supply of strong talent is greater than the demand, shortcuts can be taken. This talent-surplus process is shown by the active-candidate path on the left of the funnel. The problem for most companies is that they use a surplus process even in a scarcity situation.

For most companies, the entire recruiting and hiring process is too transactional. It starts by filtering people on the basis of their skills and experiences, weeding out the weak, using the interview to minimize mistakes, and having candidates agree early on to a price range (compensation) before they even know the job. While demeaning, the process might actually work if there is an excess of top people available. If not, it will backfire: Companies will wind up working way too hard to hire people just like whom they’ve always hired.

In a talent-scarcity situation, recruiters and hiring managers actually need to talk with people and convince them that what’s being offered is better than what they have now. This process is represented by the extra two steps at the top of the funnel: getting high-quality leads and referrals, and converting these people into prospects. A prospect is someone who is fully qualified but needs more information before agreeing to become an official candidate. These extra steps are comparable to the discovery process in more complex sales: spending time to uncover the buyer’s needs and offering a custom solution. Done properly, this procedure can actually raise the quality of people hired.

Here’s how this is done:

1. Differentiate the job.

A job isn’t a list of skills, experiences, and generic responsibilities. A job is what a person does with these skills and experiences, whom he or she does it with, and the importance of the work. A career is what the person can learn and become if the work is done well. If the recruiter and hiring manager can’t describe the work this way, they’ll lose every top passive candidate they see.

Our hiring troubleshooting guide shows a number of ways to prepare these types of performance-based job descriptions. Just as in sales: The best sales reps know what they’re selling.

2. Obtain prequalified referrals.

Because most of the best people in any field find their jobs through some referral or trusted source, recruiters need to spend most of their time getting prequalified warm referrals. This is typically how the best salespeople find their best clients, and the same is true in recruiting.

3. Slow down. Sell the discussion, not the job.

People who aren’t looking aren’t impressed with recruiters who filter on skills, don’t know much about the job, negotiate the price during the first call, and rush to close. The recruiting discovery process is more like a slow dance with the recruiter always leading.

4. Conduct a gap analysis.

The objective of the discovery process is to determine if the difference in what the company is offering and what the candidate has done represents a career move. This Job-seeker’s Decision Grid will allow you to quickly determine what it would take to position your job as a career move. The big idea: Don’t let the prospect make long-term career decisions using short-term information such as compensation, location, company name, and job title.

5. Engage the hiring manager early and often.

Truly passive prospects are unlikely to become serious candidates without first having anexploratory call with the hiring manager. Though it takes some finesse on the part of the recruiter to pull this off, the call allows the passive candidate to gain more insight about the career potential of the job without too much of a commitment. The role of the hiring manager is to entice the person to seriously consider the job.

6. Close on career growth, not compensation maximization.

When a passive candidate is first contacted, a significant compensation increase is often the primary criteria for considering a move. This becomes less important if the new job represents a true career move. Unfortunately, too many recruiters and candidates filter each other out before they ever get to this level of full disclosure. That’s why some type of formal, multistep discovery process like the one described needs to be implemented.

The customer is king, except, it seems, when it comes to hiring. In order to hire the best people possible, every step of a company’s hiring process needs to be based on how the best people find jobs and why they select one opportunity over another. Few companies have designed their hiring programs from this perspective. Most are built on the false assumption that there is a surplus of great talent and all that’s necessary is to weed out the weak. In a talent scarcity situation, this will not only fail, but it will also be counterproductive, demeaning, and costly. Hiring the best and raising the talent level of a company is not a cost; it’s a strategic investment. It’s one most companies want to make, but few know how. It starts by making the candidate the king.


-Courtesy: Inc.com

10 Words People Who Lack Confidence Always Use

Nine-hundred and seventy-two.

That’s the total number of e-mails I received just in May, and it’s about my average. That’s not counting the hundreds and hundreds of messages Gmail dumped into categories for promotional mail, forum posts, and social networking updates. I’ve become proficient at jumping through messages quickly (using the J and K keys), but there’s one thing I’ve mastered even more than that: spotting a lack of confidence.

I also take quite a few cold calls–people who are not really sure what I do and have not really done too much research but have me on a phone list for some reason.

In most cases, it’s a pitch about a product or someone asking a question about marketing to journalists. He or she might say he or she “usually” does something. In a few cases, it’s someone with a business idea he or she “suspects” will be perfect. Most of the time, these messages are straightforward–the sender isn’t messing around. But a few seem hesitant. I fire back a question, and the response makes me question the person’s authority on the subject.

These words are not always triggers about confidence level, but they are my first signal that something is amiss. They make me think the sender is not that sure about the product or service. And they are dead giveaways that I need to question what the person says.

1. Might

Be careful when you tell people you “might” do something. Are you sure about that? No one is asking you to solve world peace. When you say you “might” finish a report, it implies you lack some ability, don’t manage your time well, or have too many priorities.

2. Won’t

Here’s an obvious word to avoid in your emails. Anyone who says he or she “won’t” do something or “won’t” attend a meeting is generating a negative vibe. Be more decisive: Either accept an invitation or reject it; using the word won’t suggests hesitancy.

3. Usually

This is a trigger word in email that makes it obvious to everyone that you don’t have all the facts. If you say the accounting department “usually” doesn’t approve your expense report or the boss is “usually” late to work, it means you’re stretching the truth.

4. Suspect

Unless you are talking about a suspect in a trial, avoid saying you “suspect” anything. You’re not Sherlock Holmes. Just use direct terms: You know an investor is pulling out of the project, and here’s why; or you have facts to support your conclusion on a new marketing plan.

5. Impossible

I’ll bet Mark Zuckerberg has never used the word impossible in an email. The recipient will lose confidence in you quickly. State why something might be hard or difficult or just don’t agree to a course of action. Don’t bother telling people it’s impossible.

6. Worried

We all worry about the stresses of life. Telling people you are worried by email makes it seem as if you lack confidence in your abilities. If you are worried, don’t bother saying that to anyone–just express what you are concerned about and offer solutions.

7. Confused

Expressing your confusion will create even more confusion. It’s better to just say what you are confused about and ask questions. Saying you are “confused” gives people the impression that either you don’t understand something or that the topic is confusing to you.

8. Need

We all have needs in life. When you express those needs by email over and over again, it makes you look needy. I “need” you to come to work early, I “need” you to get that report done. Avoid saying “need” and express requirements more directly.

9. Quandary

Have you sent a message and said you were in a “quandary”? You should know that the word means you are in a total state of perplexity. I mean, you are really perplexed. That’s not often the case when it comes to a new business proposal or fundraising round.

10. Likely

Few of us are in the business of predicting the future. If you say something is “likely” in an email, you are expressing to the recipient that you are not really sure about the topic, and you don’t have all the facts yet. It’s likely that you just lack confidence.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

What Every Great Boss Knows (Infographic)

Getting the most out of your employees requires more than just strong leadership skills. The best managers know how to create a healthy working environment by being good listeners and building trust with their staff. 

The infographic below from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management outlines some of the other ways to ensure strong employee-boss relationships. Becoming a great manager doesn’t require going to business school. Experience, good instincts and smart advice from a trusted source can also get you there.

Successful Managers


-Courtesy: Inc.com