How Do You Pick Your Leaders?

As your organization grows, you need more competent people placed in the right positions. This applies to both rank-and-file staff and managers. Nowadays, most organizations outsource their staff selection to recruitment and staffing firms. They provide a list of required skills and the recruitment firms run with it, using tools like software resume parser to make it easy to sift thru tons of submission. But if you want your organization to go to the next level of growth, strategic staff selection is key, more important when it comes to management and leadership positions.

While studying the marketing secrets of Jesus, I was inspired by reading Matthew 4:12-25 to write a blog post about his staff selection process, noting that He wasn’t just selecting rank-and-file staff but leaders who will eventually take His cause to the next level. Here are key things to note about his selection process that organizations can use as a template when selecting leaders.

  1.  He walked among the crowd (Matt. 4:18). He found Simon and Andrew while walking by the Sea of Galilee. The fact of the matter is, Jesus was a native Galilean. This means He knows people within the community – their lifestyle, their jobs, where their kids go to school, etc. Sometimes I wonder if He just sat there during His leisure time to watch how people go about their day or talk to them at the end of their day. My dad, being a fishing hobbyist, usually spends time with the other fishing fanatics along the State Beach of Pacifica, CA. He can tell you everything there is to know about those people. The problem with most executives and managers nowadays is that they don’t even know what project their staff is working on unless some issue arises. Ken Blanchard, in his book with Don Shula entitled The Little Book Of Coaching,  calls this the “seagull management” (in a previous blog post, I talked about how positive reinforcement is a great management and leadership strategy.)   The challenge with large organizations nowadays is that having too many staff becomes a very good excuse not to know every one of them. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, was known for visiting stores and asking employees how they feel about the store and asking for suggestions to improve operations. I bet Jesus knows the fishing techniques used by Simon and Andrew that He managed to strike a conversation with them. If you want to find the next leader within the organization, try “walking among the crowd.
  2. He recruited them personally (Matt 4:19). James D. Jameson, Member of Global Advisory Board of Trilantic Capital Management LLC, writes that he “does a lot of the recruiting himself and often find that his picks are people already in the company.” Successful leaders know that they have to take responsibility for selecting their key staff. Culture is one indicator of how somebody will fit within the organization and, more often than not, is defined by the leader. A good case study for this is Nike’s former CEO Bill Perez who was let go because “he didn’t fit the culture.“Jesus knew how He wanted his top personnel to function because He defined the culture. That’s why He personally recruited them – Simon and Andrew first, then, James and John (Matt 4:21). Trying to fully understand an outsider during the hiring process is a challenging task and, most of the times, is an exercise in futility. Leaders need to have a hand in selecting key people who will run with them and grow the organization. And this is why walking among the crowd helps them know people who already fit the culture and have leadership potential – it’s easier to recruit them personally.
  3. He spoke their language (Matt 4:19). We are all guilty of communicating in a more complex way, and the same is true with leaders – the revenue targets for next year, the problem with customer retention and high turnover, etc. But if I’m the guy in-charge  of inventory, how will I understand the issues that the organization face if all the business jargons are wrapped around the key message? It makes me feel that the leader just wants to communicate how smart he or she is by using all of these buzzwords that only executives understand. Jesus knew how to communicate using our language. We know Him as a carpenter or, as some may say, a skilled craftsman. There’s a big difference between a fisherman and a craftsman. Both of them use different sets of tools, different jargons in their daily communication, different industry news,  different stories to tell. Yet He used words that Simon and Andrew understood – “I will make you fishers of men.” It’s a leader’s attempt to be one of his subordinates.  Great leaders know that they need to communicate about what people care about. And that means speaking their language.

You might think that Jesus was advocating leader selection from within the organization rather than bringing in an outsider. But that is mainly because He was preparing for the growth of His organization, not trying to revive a dying one. What about you? How do you or your organization select leaders and managers?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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