February 24, 2011

Why Chemistry Trumps Competence

Let's start with 3 traits of great people: character, chemistry and competence. There's no doubt character is the most important, but which one comes next: chemistry or competence?
We live in a world that glorifies talent: athletes, celebrities, musicians, etc. But take a deeper look at winning teams. Sure, there's always a great player or two, yet it's the chemistry of all, not the competence of a few that makes the difference.

As a business owner, I experienced this recently: my wife and I interviewed candidates for a marketing intern position [for my company]. Resumes don't mean much to me, interviews do. Confidence, communication skills and authenticity are all nonverbal cues revealed in a conversation. Sure, I was looking for certain answers, but "how" the message was delivered was more important

Experience can be overrated. Why do you need 10 years of experience in the same field to be successful? All that says is you stayed in the same job for 10 years. Instead, look for a diverse amount of experience in different fields so others know you've tried a variety of skill sets and worked with a vast amount of personalities.

Chemistry trumps competence because I've met a lot of talented people who are jerks.
Chemistry trumps competence because I want to work with someone I actually like.
Chemistry trumps competence because "fit" is more important than skills.

Sure, competence matters, but if you're the most talented person at your company, yet no one wants to work with you - you're on an island that no one wants to visit. Skills can be taught. Humility comes with the package. Your attitude is what counts. It's more important that you want to learn, rather than think you know it all.  

Personally, I'd take the less talented person over the high performer if I know they play well with others and are hungry to learn. That's my opinion, what do you think?  

February 21, 2011

The Power of Pods

The Navy SEAL's employ a great leadership tactic called "pods." Instead of training as a large team, they break people into small groups. These groups do everything together and create tight bonds. Observe human nature and watch how people naturally cluster in small groups. 

Paul Azinger, captain of the US Ryder Cup team in 2008 and professional golfer, used this strategy to perfection. Instead of pairing his team based on talent, he grouped them according to personality, background and values. In pods, under pressure communication increases when behavioral style is compatible. 

Pods can be implemented in any organization. Take for instance your company. Normally groups are formed based around skill set or position, but that doesn't always work. What if psychological assessment were used such as the StrengthsFinder, DISC or Myers Briggs, then people were grouped based on personality fit? The result would be increased performance based on shared values, personality and background.

This sounds simple, but we are relational beings at our core. Here are some takeaways from Azinger's book "Cracking the Code:"

  • Implement a strategy that creates the best environment to succeed
  • Focusing on relationships produces positive results
  • Team unity comes from understanding the unique behavioral style & contribution of each person
  • Giving responsibility and authority fosters trust and confidence
  • Message people according to their needs (not ours) encourages peak performance

The leader's job is to create an environment where others have the best chance to succeed. This happens with intense preparation and taking the needs of your people into consideration. Don't micromanage, instead set the structure, communicate the message, then trust your people by releasing control and letting them do the job. 

The next time you're forming teams, try using the pods strategy. You'll be amazed at the power of the pods! 


February 7, 2011

What Brand are You?

When you hear the word branding, you automatically think of a product. The funny thing is everyone has a brand. No matter if you are an entrepreneur, worker or student you're known for something. 

Your brand isn't what you choose, but what others label you as. Huh? That means you don't determine your brand, others do. Can you be intentional about how you form your brand? Yes. The best brands in the business make a concerted effort to almost brainwash people into thinking of their product/service in a certain way. Why do you think marketing exists?

What do you want to be known for? If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be? Tough question. Clarity is power and when you're able to illustrate what you do in one word, people can make a choice whether to "buy" you or not.

Think of yourself as a business. How do you want to be seen? What feeling or emotion do you want to emit? Branding is a very simple, yet complex concept to master. The mind can really only remember one thing when it thinks of someone. The question is, what is that one thing people will know you for? 

Want to know more about how to BRAND yourself? Come join us at Career Synergy on 3/1 where Josh Allan Dykstra will show you how to determine your BRAND!