As specialists in helping leaders shift their behaviours, I can tell you that there’s a reason we get people focused on working on one big behaviour at a time: it’s REALLY HARD to change a behaviour! When Trump was running for President, I wrote an article predicting that he wouldn’t win because of his bullying behaviour. Obviously, I didn’t factor in that there was an electorate that would glorify and reward him for that very behaviour. And yet, we shouldn’t be surprised by how he’s led while in office.
I remember once interviewing a candidate for a position and when asked what his former boss would say about him he said ‘Well I’m suing the bastards, so probably not much.’ One of my colleagues admired his honesty, while others of us saw him as a loose cannon with no diplomacy or restraint. Not exactly traits you’d want in a senior leader. Another candidate gave a smooth interview but never really shared strong enough examples for us to get a good feel for the kinds of experiences he’d actually had. Turns out, through reference checking, we found out that he had been fired from several of his previous employers – in one case for nearly burning down their training room!
The smooth responses were hiding lots of key details and shone a spotlight on this individual’s penchant for exaggeration and lies by omission. If you’re hiring a new person, spend lots of time asking them what they did in different scenarios, not what they might do. How they handled something is a major predictor of how they’ll handle it going forward.
What’s a key behaviour you always look for when hiring?