14 Competencies to Covet in People
The most critical role of a leader is to populate their organization with competencies required to deliver their strategic game plan.
Yes, academic pedigrees are important but they don’t represent the tipping point for successful performance.
These 14 competencies are those to covet in people. They represent basic human character and define the difference between a mediocre organization and a remarkable one.
1. Listening—you can’t discover what customers, employees and colleagues want and desire if you are not a 100% listener. Find those that like to hear themselves talk.
2. Apologizing—a successful recovery act after you have screwed a customer around (and every organization does sooner or later) begins with “I’m sorry”. Make sure you covet people who do this naturally. Some can’t. Some don’t want to. Organizations need to be human; stepping up to your faults is the beginning.
3. Respect for humans—creating memorable customer experiences is all about serving and taking care of people and it can’t be done if your people would rather be doing something else. If prospects don’t like humans, show them the door.
4. High pain tolerance—greatness doesn’t come without disappointment and pain along the way. If people can’t endure the pain associated with progress no significant advancements are ever made.
5. Desire to try—progress requires people always trying new stuff and failing along the way. That’s innovation. Look for people with a demonstrated track record of trying and learning from failure.
Related: Are You a Leader Who Lights Fires?
6. Mellow yellow—you really do need folks that react well under extreme pressure. STOP—PAUSE—THINK—RESPOND THOUGHTFULLY. It’s virtually impossible to train people in this. Hire for it.
7. Great memory—a good memory will go a long way to dazzling a customer. It shows you paid attention the last time you connected with the person. It shows you care enough to remember. And it’s a competitive advantage for the organization.
8. Nano-inch seeker—progress is made by executing the game plan of the organization flawlessly, inch-by-inch-by-inch. There are few silver bullets that result in quantum leaps. Look for people who have demonstrated the capability to “get an inch of progress” FAST.
9. Lifelong learning—if people aren’t always learning something new, how can they help the organization innovate move forward? They can’t. Look for evidence that prospects are constant learners and have a passion for probing the unknown.
10. Infecting—the ability to “infect others” with the virus of your strategic intent is critical in terms of executing it. Some people have the interest, passion and tenacity to get others excited about advancing the cause. This is an invaluable asset. Remarkable results are created through energy and passion, not from pondering.
11. Making friends—deep customer relationships and loyalty are the result of trusted relationships built over time. If a prospect has a shallow friend network, ask why. It could be they don’t value relationships. Stay clear.
12. Storytelling—stories “breathe life” into a strategy. They paint pictures of what it looks like when the plan is being successfully executed in the field. You need people who can “light peoples’ eyes up” with a story about some aspect of your strategy. Talk the event. Talk the person. Talk…..
13. Simple thinking—great performance originates with simplicity. Execution is simplicity. Elegance that can’t be implemented is worthless. Think simple. Find simple. Discover folks with the natural ability to dumb things down.
14. Connecting with others—results are produced through processes working ACROSS the organization through a team of people working together to get the job done. This requires the ability to connect with others and build effective relationships with them.
The real important competencies to covet are basic human skills because it’s people that make organizations successful.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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