If you aspire to be a great leader, you might find yourself turning inward to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, but an equally important measure we often forget is looking outward to those around us. American entrepreneur and author, Jim Rohn, once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”
You can increase that average by surrounding yourself with people that reflect values that are important to you. For example, values like honesty and humility are significant to me and I like to surround myself with people who demonstrate these qualities. I happen to think these qualities are also essential ingredients for transparent leadership. One of the best strategies for developing the company you keep and cultivating a positive culture is to start with your hiring process.
Unfortunately, most of us look for the wrong qualities when making important hiring decisions, according to Bruce Weinstein, author of The Good Ones. “Employers focus too much on what candidates need to know or do and rarely think about what makes an employee great: character.”
Weinstein associates 10 qualities with what he considers high character employees. Honesty tops the list, followed by: accountability, care, courage, fairness, gratitude, humility, loyalty, patience and presence. Honesty is listed first because Weinstein asserts it’s the most important quality by far. If someone is fundamentally dishonest, it’s hard to imagine any other quality outweighing that flaw.
Hiring for character means incorporating interview questions that genuinely address your company values. For example, a question about humility might go as follows, says Weinstein: “‘Tell me about one of your proudest accomplishments. What was it and how did you pull it off?’ When a potential employee gives credit to those who helped support his or her endeavors, you know you’ve found one of the ‘good ones.’”
Make sure you hold your interview process to a higher standard. If you do, you will gain high-character employees who positively influence their colleagues and teams, and strengthen your organizational brand. Equally important, you’ll increase your average!
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