Looking for a good leader for your business?

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Traditional interviews, background checks, and clever “scenario” questions might help you turn up a good leader. But sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you end up hiring a problem, and then struggling to get rid of him or her.

Here are some characteristics of good leaders and bad, that may help you find the pearls and avoid the pain.

Good Leaders… Bad Leaders…
Know how to build consensus when new strategies are needed. When staff members buy into a change, the chances for success are much better. Don’t seek guidance from knowledgeable sources when new strategies are needed. They also don’t care whether the staff is unhappy with changes.
Understand that it is better to let other people sing your praises rather than blowing your own horn. It’s not wrong to list accomplishments in appropriate venues, such as a resume, or in an interview or review, but in general, a little humility goes a long way. Brag about their own accomplishments, especially if they don’t acknowledge that others were instrumental in the successes. Often, bad leaders are looking for advancement and may not care who they step on to get it.
Help carry out plans and strategies to ensure the best possible outcome. Delegation is, of course, important, but few good leaders can sit back and watch everyone else do the work. Rattle off grandiose plans and then expect everyone else to find ways to make them work. Bad leaders often aren’t interested in doing any of the real work themselves.
Remember that there’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. A good leader views success as a win for everyone involved. Believe that nothing is more important than their own success and thirst for glory.
Make decisions carefully after being fully informed. Make off-the-cuff decisions without an appropriate amount of analysis.
Listen and realize that good ideas and solid advice can come from unexpected sources… like the custodian or a vendor. Prefer the sound of their own voices and rarely tolerate other opinions. Bad leaders may have few genuine accomplishments and try to diminish the achievements of others.
Establish their records based on recent results. Expect to impress others by recounting efforts, even if they did not pay off in positive results.
Treat individuals with consideration regardless of their position, power, or ability to advance the leader’s career or lifestyle. Tend to alienate people by a lack of consideration, especially people they deem to be below them on the ladder of importance.
Make the effort to get along with co-workers, superiors, subordinates, and others. Have long lists of problems with others, and usually even longer lists of reasons why the problems are not their fault.
Recognize that, while it’s important to have rules and follow them, occasionally you need the flexibility and perhaps the wisdom to make exceptions. Can be sticklers for rules. They may overlook opportunities and often fail to recognize the human element of the workforce.

Naturally before hiring a key employee, you’ll do a thorough background check and provide him or her with a detailed job description. But many of the traits of a bad leader are easy to miss in a standard hiring process. Some experts suggest that, in an interview, you may be able to uncover potential problems by discussing the job you offer in terms of how it contrasts with the candidate’s current job.

It’s also a good idea to focus discussion on your company’s ethics, and how you expect the person you hire to interact with others inside and outside of the company in the course of business, including public figures, shareholders, and the press.

Another way to broaden your radar to weed out candidates who are a bad fit with your workforce is to have extensive conversations with the candidate’s former associates, and to ask the right questions, such as:

  • How does this person handle conflict?
  • Is he or she willing to share credit where appropriate?
  • How does this person deal with subordinates, colleagues, vendors, clients, and superiors?
  • When decisions must be made, does this person try to build consensus? Accept advice? Act unilaterally and expect others to fall in line?

Figuring out whether a candidate will be a good leader can be a difficult task. But ensuring that key managers have the characteristics on the left side of the chart above can help ensure your organization’s success.

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