Saturday, August 9, 2008

You Better -- "Bring It!"

I will admit to being a pretty quick judge of people. I can usually determine within about 2 minutes of meeting someone new if they are a person I would want to work with / work for or even if they are someone with whom I would want to hang out.

I have hired and promoted many people. I have rated the performance and potential of hundreds of others. I regularly speak to different groups of leaders and I am always on the prowl for emerging leaders who might join our team. I have served with and for some of the nation’s finest leaders – in and out of the Army. There is one simple quality that differentiates the good from the great.

What am I looking for?

Energy. Passionate, exciting, inspirational energy. That’s it. If you’ve got it, I think we can work well together. I will do anything to work for you or to get you on my team. If you don’t, if you can't bring it, well….

Regardless of what you do, isn’t that what we are all looking for – someone who will inspire us, cause us to jump out of bed, change our lives so we can’t wait to get to work and do battle together? Aren’t we all looking for people with the sort of energy who will rally the team, never get down, never quit? Don’t we all want to hang around with people who can blend work and play, who can give and take, who care deeply about each other and what they are doing?

In my leadership experience, energy produces:

-- A burning desire to succeed…no matter what!
-- A willingness to share in the hardships of battle, to do one’s part.
-- A proactive mindset that anticipates problems rather than just reacting to them.
-- A willingness to fail, to pick up the pieces, and to keep fighting.
-- An ability to accept blame, share credit, and incorporate lessons learned.
-- An ability to follow-up on ideas, to take risks, to push themselves and the team to levels never before imagined.
-- A passion for the team over self.

I may be oversimplifying my analysis. But I think so much of leadership is about energy. If you don’t have it, there is absolutely no way that those who look to you will. If you can’t bring it (and sometimes fake it…without people figuring it out!), you’re not ready to lead.

At least not on my team. I’m looking for energy. That’s Leader Business!


Mitch said...

What you've said is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, I also evaluate people pretty quickly, and I have to say that I've never been wrong in my initial assessment, though sometimes I have hoped for the best.

Second, you said you look for energy, and while I do want someone who seems competent and willing to do what's needed to get things done, I have found two types that turn me off that definitely are energetic. The first is the braggart, who goes out of their way to keep telling you how good they perceive themselves to be, and what I call the know-it-all, who has to comment on every single thing, even while you're in the process of explaining it. Sometimes, certain people need to also learn how to tone it down.

Tom Magness said...

Great points, Mitch. That sort of self-serving energy is hard to be around. The energy I look for is the sort that embraces challenges, that is fun to be around, that inspires others to be their best. That sort of servant energy can change the world! I'll take leaders like that any day. As for those you describe...I thought immediately of politicians. Ha!