Coming up Trumps – finding the right leader

On 8th November 2016 the USA votes for its next president after what has been by far the most controversial, divisive and at times downright bizarre election campaign in the country’s history. The actions and personalities of the two candidates have got the whole world talking about what is required for the most powerful job in the world; neither seems ideal, but who would make the ‘best’ leader?

The examples of poor leadership traits have been extreme during the election…. what should we be looking to avoid when appointing one for our business?

It’s all about me!

  • There’s no doubt that when some people first get to lead others the power can go a bit to their head, particularly if they’re just a little too fond of themselves.
  • Look out for the Trump type, who bases everything on how they are superior and come across as simply bragging about their own ability. This sort of person risks not actually teaching their team anything, just coming across as arrogant and full of themselves.
  • This can result in the people they work with being more concerned with picking holes in their role as a leader when they get the opportunity, resulting in a confrontational relationship when they should be working together.
  • Knowing when to stand your ground is important – in fact it can be a vital skill in achieving what you need to. But look out for stubbornness in a person. People who aren’t willing to admit they are wrong are not willing to learn: a crucial aspect of any working relationship.

Too nice, meek, or over-accommodating

  • It sounds a bit weird to say that it’s possible to be too nice but the simple fact is it can come across as two-faced. Sometimes conflict is unavoidable – and the best talent will be aware that it can be healthy and even help you get things done. Honesty goes a long way.
  • Someone could struggle as a leader role if they’re uncomfortable in their own skin and look unconvinced after making a decision. The individuals working under them are probably going to lose faith and trust in what they say. Assertiveness is key to maintaining credibility.
  • The balance can be difficult: women in particular have voiced that they are either seen as too meek or too aggressive. During the election campaign Hillary Clinton was told by her campaign to ‘smile more and stop shouting’, perhaps as her most effective counter to Trump’s own over-the-top and aggressive style. While he made clear inroads early on, his inability to balance his aggression has shown signs of an electorate losing faith in his words, and beginning to doubt his credibility in delivering quality leadership and effective action in post.
  • A leader is often naturally confident, larger-than-life characters who believe in themselves, but that isn’t always the case. Just look at some of the notable leaders throughout history, like Gandhi, who inspired through humility and selflessness. Leaders can be quiet and just as successful if their team can see that they believe in what they do and have selfless intentions.

Too busy to lead!

  • Having loads to do can be great to maximise activity at work and get the best possible results. But watch out for people so eager to impress by doing stuff themselves that they make no time for their team. The human side of supporting employees is just as important in a leadership role. If the boss is consistently unavailable there’s a risk of communication breaking down. Sometimes even the best leaders are capable of holding onto stuff too much – they’re confident in their ability to do something so just think ‘I might as well do it.’ But this can stunt the development of the people in their team; there’s simply less to do because their leader struggles with trusting them to do the job to the same standard.
  • The whole point in having direct reports is that they can take the strain off and free up their superiors to do bigger and better things with their time. If the to-do list is getting long the pressure will be on, leading to stress and a tense, volatile working environment.

That’s a lot to think about…

Any hiring manager must be aware of the importance of getting leadership appointments right at the first attempt as poor leaders have a negative effect on everyone working for them. This is especially critical at the higher levels in a company, where VPs’ and CEOs’ leadership and influence will have knock-on effects throughout the business.

When making a business critical decision help yourself and retain the services of a specialist agency with the expertise to find hard to reach talent that will take the role on offer and run with it.

FMC have over 25 years of experience looking for the best talent to...

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