How to Hire Great Leaders

To hire great leaders for your company can often seem like a vague and idealistic goal. Most places of business probably describe their hiring objectives as such: “We need candidates who have X,Y,Z experience for thus and so many years. They need to have self-motivated personalities and be great team players.” While those characteristics are absolutely important, they don’t represent the complete package of someone who will become a great leader in your company, the catalyst for growth in not only the bottom line, but also in the very mission and purpose of your organization.

So what do these people look like, and how can you recognize them from the start?

  1. They are just as adept at listening as they are at communicating. Great leaders understand that learning is one of their most valuable tools for growth and success. They might come to you with impressive resumes and awe-inspiring accolades, but they will give the utmost regard to what you have to share with them during your meeting or interview. You will sense their fascination with gaining new experience and new knowledge from everyone they come in contact with.
  2. Their mission is corporate success. Great leaders will care just as much about the accomplishments of the organization as a whole as they do about their individual achievements. This attitude is absolutely crucial for anyone wishing to be a manager at any level. It displays an ownership of the whole entity and a commitment to do what is necessary for its success, even if that requires sacrificing some of their own personal preferences.
  3. They care about the well-being of others, not just their profitability. While the bottom line is extremely important for the survival of any company, great leaders understand that it isn’t the only priority. A genuine concern for the people that they work with and for will be one of their distinctive characteristics. They have fully embraced this principle stated in Michelle Moore’s Selling Simplified: “One wise truth of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” Consequently, they have positioned themselves to become true difference makers in their business, community, and beyond.
  4. They are committed to a great cause. I can’t really state it better than Steve Goodier already did: “Causes do matter. And the world is changed by people who care deeply about causes – about things that matter. We don’t have to be particularly smart or talented. We don’t need a lot of money or education. All we really need is to be passionate about something important; something bigger than ourselves. And it’s that commitment to a worthwhile cause that changes the world.”
  5. They are serious about continuous improvement. One indication of this is the consistent addition of insurance certifications to their resume, like CPCU, ARM, CIC, and ACSR, to name just a few. Or perhaps you will notice their well-rounded set of skills regarding the latest technology and insurance software programs. Another indication of great leaders’ mindset for improvement is their willingness to receive all kinds of feedback with a good attitude. It takes great strength of character to acknowledge one’s shortcomings and humbly accept suggestions for improvement, a defining mark of someone you could trust implicitly to lead your organization well.
  6. They don’t get hung up on personality differences. Instead, they are known for their ability to skillfully navigate unpleasant situations, resolve conflict, and work alongside many different personality types. For you as the hiring manager, you need to ask candidates applying for leadership positions about their conflict resolution experience and their perspective on working with people who operate much differently than they do. A candidate whose focus is persevering until the best solution is found is the type of person you can trust to always rise above personal feelings for the good of everyone involved.

These are all traits that you as the hiring manager for your company need to intentionally probe for during meetings and interviews with candidates. Ask those challenging, open-ended questions, and pay close attention to their responses. People with these characteristics have the potential to lead your organization to a whole new level of greatness and influence.

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