In today’s workplace the ability to manage ambiguity and operate effectively in a forever changing environment is critical. As a Head Hunter, this theme is discussed as a critical competency requirement in virtually every mandate that we take on.
Companies do not create change without good reason but so often the pursuit of the right strategy requires change, to the extent that it can feel like change is permanent.
There are many positives in the dimension of change for human and team performance. We only begin to reach our potential when we put ourselves in a position when we can really be tested. Change can do this, especially when we can set our minds to embrace the challenge and learn to thrive on it. Excess predictability will breed staleness and an overall lowering of pace. When that decline sets in, in any group or team, it can be hard to change. If it is recognised too late, it is game over.
As John F Kennedy said: “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”
Building a business requires a pace and momentum alongside a need to stretch yourself and the people around you. In my opinion this is one of the central components of leadership.
The balance between pressure and creating an environment that can thrive in these dynamics is a fascinating one. My experience is that when good people are being pushed too far they will let you know. If nobody ever tells you that they are under pressure then arguably you should be worried. You are not pushing hard enough.
What is certain is that these are skills that we need to develop in today’s working environments. The sooner you develop them the better. The huge upside is that these skills contribute to our lives. A mindset that is based around challenging ourselves, learning about our boundaries and being able to thrive under pressure can only improve our ability to contribute and express ourselves.
The more that we can embrace this and incorporate this in to who we are, the more engaged we become. Through this, we can shift away from the dialogue of work-life balance and begin to see that work contributes and is a part of who we are.
At the heart of the role of a Head Hunter is helping companies to achieve their objectives whilst simultaneously supporting people in making decisions which have a significant impact on their life and, very often, their family’s lives. This process takes place in the face of what can be intense pressure for a company to make a critical hire. Very often the budgets and plans have been committed to, the clock is ticking and these hires are central to achieving these objectives. As a result there are people across the business who are heavily invested and dependent on the success of these processes. This means that the breadth of close interpersonal relationships that are managed in any one executive search campaign can be enormous and must be given the utmost level of respect.
The competition is very high for individuals with high quality leadership skills, specialist market or functional expertise and who possess the appetite and drive required to be successful. When these aspects all collide, not to mention the importance of cultural fit and personal circumstance, there are a number of areas of risk that need to be tackled and unfortunately some can only be resolved when a process has run its course. This causes very real pressure to deliver.
The truth is that you either thrive on the pressure and the complexity of the interpersonal engagements and the problem solving that is required or you don’t. Very few people grow up wanting to be a Head Hunter (other than my kids…), but this profession requires a unique set of skills and personal drivers which can be a relatively rare combination.
Head Hunters are in an incredibly privileged position to be able to support people through life changing decisions and to deliver projects that have a material impact on the companies’ business. The trust that our clients invest in us is very hard earned but is a significant reward in it’s own right. In my experience, the greatest Head Hunters CARE DEEPLY about the impact of their work. They care about the people in the process. They care about their clients’ reputation and their success and they care about ensuring that the process has genuine integrity and delivers a hugely positive outcome for all involved. None of this is simple but it is incredibly rewarding.
The negative reputation that has been caused by poor behaviour’s in our industry over the years is not lost on me. It motivates me every day to change that perception and deliver on the potential of the sector to deliver very real value to the companies and the people who we support.
High Performance Habits:
I wanted to take the opportunity to share a great resource. Of all of the business, performance and psychology books that I have read in recent years, Brendon Burchard’s “High Performance Habits” has really resonated with me.
The most simple way for me to emphasise how good this is, is to say that if I could go back in time and meet my 18 year old self then this is the book that I would share. No surprise it has received such acclaim. So many brilliant books provide theory, concepts and great stories but sometimes they lack the granular detail and roadmap that enables an individual to shape their own “how”. This book provides the platform to begin to do this in an incredibly effective way.
Through my career to date, I feel that I have formed some good habits and understood how to define a vision, to plan, organise, prioritise and execute. However, I have long felt that there are more optimal habits that would enable greater focus and productivity. The focus on clarity of vision and the building of stronger essential habits to be able to deliver on that vision in a productive and sustainable manner is powerful.
Adapting and implementing new habits over the last 6 months has been a great learning journey. It has raised the question for me as to how the formation of these skills can be better integrated through earlier life education? I would love to understand more about the practice of this and any examples where this is really happening. I can see huge value for my own kids to be beginning to engage with these methods through their latter education, before they enter the professional world.
My only question is whether my 18 year old self would have been prepared to listen?!
Thank you Brendon. In my opinion this book is a great gift to anybody who wants to understand themselves better and generate habits that can provide a real edge. It requires a lot of study to get the most out of it but the questioning throughout is brilliant.