You’ve probably experienced what it feels like to make a decision that strays from the way you’ve done things before. A knot in your stomach accompanied by a sense of excitement for what could come.
This is exactly what happens when companies are open to new ideas about roles in the organization. Every open position provides a great opportunity: to recalibrate responsibilities, upgrade talent, or make a dramatic pivot. It takes courage to do things differently than conventional wisdom dictates.
The short version of the story
The hardest decisions to make are those that change things. It takes courage to admit when you don’t’ know something and to ask for assistance. When you’re after results quickly, it’s tempting to reach for what’s familiar. But as my client learned, that would have been a big mistake.
Timing is everything: there’s such a thing as the right time
Relationships with recruiters rarely evolve into trusted partnerships. But that’s exactly what you need when you have a critical role to fill….yesterday.
Would your recruiter tell you the role you’re thinking about is dated, ill-defined, or completely misses the mark? What happens when you need someone right away and can’t afford to screen too many candidates? Does the last job description apply to the current situation? These scenarios come up more often than you think. It takes courage to pause, evaluate the situation, and accept assistance.
Due to an abrupt departure, my client was looking to backfill a critical, C-level role. The backstory was intriguing. The former executive was no leader. He had left people, process, and technology destruction in his wake for systems critical to the success of the company. This client needed someone to come in and repair the damage quickly.
Typically, there’s a rush to identify, interview, and select from a broad range of candidates. But, this client knew the role was ill-defined, which would make selecting the right person challenging.
Open minds open opportunities
The COO did a remarkable thing: she was completely transparent with me. She acknowledged the executive team didn’t quite understand the type of person the company needed. They had talked about several options but had not settled on any.
But she went further by asking for my advice. How would I assess the role and approach the situation? This was a company in dire straits that needed someone quickly, yet agreed to wait a few days while I thought about their situation. And that took courage on both parts.
I suggested the best approach was to bring in a senior consultant I knew from a previous successful collaboration to do a current state analysis. The COO agreed to take this step for guidance on the framework for the position.
After a quick analysis, the consultant explained the situation and what the role required to fix it to the C-Suite. That made framing the new role possible and afforded the COO a deeper understanding of the key attributes needed for success. Finding the right person at that point became much easier. The new employee found a less frantic environment: onboarding became a much more productive process and positioned the new leader for long term success.
This all worked because the COO had the courage to acknowledge the challenges, ask for assistance… and listened to the advice. If she had insisted on maintaining the status quo, filling the position with a copy of the former employee, the company would be in a challenging position today.
The courage to rise above the status quo made an exceptional hire possible.