Good peo­ple in­spire us to per­form at our best

BUSI­NESS BOOKS Char­ac­ter and val­ues get over­looked in hir­ing and pro­mot­ing of staff

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS -

Peo­ple aren’t our or­ga­ni­za­tions’ great­est as­set.

It’s ac­tu­ally good peo­ple who make the dif­fer­ence.

Great things hap­pen when we’re in the com­pany of good peo­ple. They lead with hu­mil­ity, hon­esty and in­tegrity. They’re gen­er­ous, em­pa­thetic and com­pas­sion­ate. They’re also wise, re­spect­ful and grate­ful.

Good peo­ple in­spire us to per­form at our best.

And be­ing at our col­lec­tive best is good for our or­ga­ni­za­tions’ bot­tom lines and long-term fi­nan­cial health.

Au­thor, en­tre­pre­neur and strate­gic ad­viser An­thony Tjan says good peo­ple are “com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ously cul­ti­vat­ing the val­ues that help them and oth­ers be­come the fullest pos­si­ble ver­sions of who they are.

Good peo­ple pur­posely and proac­tively put peo­ple first in their de­ci­sion-mak­ing.”

So why do smart lead­ers some­times make dumb de­ci­sions when it comes to hir­ing and pro­mot­ing? Why bring peo­ple into our or­ga­ni­za­tions who put them­selves first and make the rest of us bit­ter in­stead of bet­ter?

Tjan says we’re con­di­tioned to put cre­den­tials and com­pe­ten­cies ahead of a job can­di­date’s char­ac­ter and val­ues.

“Defin­ing good­ness and good peo­ple, es­pe­cially in busi­ness, is chal­leng­ing. Good­ness is some­thing we all in­tu­itively sense but nonethe­less have trou­ble de­scrib­ing clearly or tan­gi­bly.”

How many all-staff an­nounce­ments have you read that in­tro­duce new se­nior lead­ers as good peo­ple? We’re told about where our new­est ex­ec­u­tive worked, the pro­jects she led, the schools she at­tended, the awards she won, what she does out­side of work and the names of her kids and the fam­ily dog.

Yet lit­tle to noth­ing is said about her val­ues and be­liefs and how they match up with those of our or­ga­ni­za­tions.

To bet­ter your odds of hir­ing a good per­son, Tjan has 10 ques­tions to con­sider be­fore mak­ing a job of­fer.

Is this job can­di­date self-aware? “Is the per­son in­tel­lec­tu­ally hon­est about who she is, about her strengths and weak­nesses? Is she ac­tively cu­ri­ous about learn­ing new things? Is she hum­ble? Are her thoughts, words and ac­tions con­sis­tent?”

Is this per­son au­then­tic or ob­se­quious? “There are few things worse than phoney praise. Good peo­ple do not feel com­pelled to tie them­selves into knots in or­der to im­press you.”

What’s the talkto-lis­ten ra­tio? If the ra­tio skews heav­ily to talk­ing, the can­di­date could suf­fer from self­im­por­tance or in­dif­fer­ence to what you and oth­ers have to say.

Is this per­son an en­ergy giver or taker? Good peo­ple are op­ti­mists who give off en­ergy. Tak­ers are cyn­i­cal emo­tional vam­pires.

Is this per­son likely to act or re­act to a task? When asked to do some­thing, good peo­ple jump in and get it done.

How does this per­son treat peo­ple she doesn’t know? Good peo­ple be­lieve we’re all equal. There’s no con­de­scen­sion, brusque­ness, rude­ness or snob­bery.

What is the spouse or part­ner like? “We are known by the com­pany we keep, es­pe­cially the peo­ple we keep clos­est to us.”

Is there an el­e­ment of strug­gle in the per­son’s his­tory? “Early set­backs tend to shape char­ac­ter more than early suc­cesses and de­vel­op­ing re­silience in re­sponse to ad­ver­sity is a key pre­dic­tor of suc­cess later in life.”

What has this per­son been read­ing? “Read­ing frames ideas, ig­nites new thoughts and adds com­plex­ity and nu­ance to fa­mil­iar per­spec­tives.”

Would you want to go on a long car ride with this per­son? Tjan says this ques­tion re­minds us to think about the “who” rather than the “what” of a per­son.

Is this per­son com­fort­able with idio­syn­cra­sies? “Our most un­usual traits make us who we are. In some cases, sim­ply be­ing true to our­selves — to our own idio­syn­cra­sies — can make us good.”

Is the per­son mul­ti­di­men­sional or mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary? “Peo­ple who can’t nav­i­gate be­tween, around and across di­verse fields of learn­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence have dras­ti­cally lim­ited hori­zons of pos­si­bil­ity.”

Tjan says we should also ask our­selves th­ese 10 ques­tions. Our an­swers will show where to get bet­ter at be­ing good and help­ing the peo­ple around us to do the same.

@jay­robb serves as di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Mo­hawk Col­lege and lives in Hamil­ton.

Good Peo­ple: The Only Lead­er­ship De­ci­sion That Re­ally Mat­ters, by An­thony Tjan. Port­fo­lio / Pen­guin, $37

JAY ROBB

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