Written by: John C. Maxwell
1. Evaluate your current performers, high and low. Identify both the positive characteristics that your top people exhibit consistently and the negative characteristics that your most challenging people exhibit consistently. You will likely note some behavioral patterns. Use those observations to develop a clear picture of who you do (and do not) want on your team.
2. Look for a values match. Shared values are non-negotiable. Although it is important to encourage independent thinking and diversity in some areas, it is even more vital to be clear about the values of your organization and hire candidates who share those principles.
3. Assess their emotional strength. No one leads without being criticized or without facing discouragement. A potential leader must have mental toughness. I don’t want a mean leader, but I do want someone tough-minded, who sees things as they are and is willing to pay the price for his or her decisions.
In job interviews, ask candidates how they have previously handled frustration, disappointment and challenging situations with co-workers. Listen for how they have been influenced by others or how the feedback of a previous supervisor has made a difference in their leadership style. The ability to accept and adapt based on such assessment is a critical skill for effective leaders.
4. Observe their people skills. Look and listen for evidence of genuine caring and concern for people in your recruits. Past behavior is the greatest indicator of future behavior.
In addition, watch candidates as they interact with people in the lobby, with your assistant, with the server in the restaurant—anywhere they might encounter people they might perceive as “beneath them.” As you observe them, preferably both in and out of the office, ask yourself:
• Do they value people?
• Do they understand people?
• Do they get along with others?
• Will people follow their lead?
5. Discover their motives. I want leaders who are motivated to serve others, not themselves. So the first question I ask potential leaders is, “Why do you want to lead others?” If their answer is honest, it will reveal their heart.
Self-serving managers and execs ask, “What can others do for me?” Servant leaders ask, “What can I do for others?” Those with the right heart can be relied upon to keep the interests of the team and the company as their top priority because their purpose in leadership is bigger than the position they hold.
There’s one last question you should ask yourself when interviewing prospective team members: Would I want to spend time with this person outside of work? You may want to ask that question of others on your team, too. Their answers will indicate how well the candidate will fit in the organization.