The Empathy Void: Politics, Business, No Difference!

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Presidential election season is filled with interesting leadership lessons, voids and learning opportunities. One word comes to mind when I think about Leadership

em·pa·thy

According to our good friend Google….

ˈempəTHē

noun

1.  the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Pretty basic.  And arguably such a lacking trait among leadership, politics, and society in general.
Election season brings out a host of topics where our leading candidates, in one form or another seem to be devoid of this thing called EMPATHY.  Pick a topic….
  • Economy

  • Minimum Wage

  • Immigration

  • National Defense

  • Budgets/deficits/planning

Ask yourself:

Does the leader have any REAL, dirt under the nails experience with the topic at hand?  Or are they just trying to figure it out “on the fly?”

Who has more credibility on a given topic, the leader that has lived through it and therefore can articulate a vivid story of experience, or the one that simply pontificates to the audience affected by it?
I wouldn’t consider myself a political junkie by any means, but it is hard not to be tuned into national politics.  At the very least, you can certainly learn how NOT to behave in a leadership situation by observing the daily discourse.
At it’s core, EMPATHY is about “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes.”  Too many leaders have not done this, and they are at a severe disadvantage when leading their troops.

There’s something to be said for the Old School Leader, those that have started at the bottom and worked their way up.  This does not need to be a CEO, it could be a supervisor that manages 10 people in an organization of 150…..if they started at the bottom and worked their way up, I’ll put my money on them.  As long as they have a memory so they don’t forget where they came from!  

A leader with a healthy dose of Empathy is not guaranteed to succeed.  But it sure does tilt the deck in their favor.  How do you know if they have it?  

  • They demonstrate it.  They talk about what matters, the people surrounding them.  
  • They talk with admiration, passion and great detail about what it means to win, how they did it, the critical role of people and their “coaching” role in the process.  
  • You start to view them as someone that can do the job of the people they are being asked to lead.  Because they have done that in the past, and haven’t forgotten where they came from.  

When searching for the Empathy Trait, a close cousin of Empathy should emerge at some point:  

Humility  

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A Wake-UP Call to Recruiters

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I’m not sure if a business comes to mind where I’m hit up more than Recruiters.  Headhunters.  Staffing Agencies.  Every week it’s a different company (or 2-3) that offers to find me great talent, massive databases, great screening, etc.  What a difficult business to compete in when a small little company like LM Foods gets approached so often and the service providers tend to blur together.  What happens in a market of multiple players, all offering the same service?

  • You ignore the white noise and you stick with one or 2 and work with them.
  • You can try and “find the bottom” of the market……offer up a program that works in hopes of cost savings.  See who’s willing to invest and get their foot in the door.  The infamous race to the bottom.
  • You give the best one a shot, don’t negotiate.  See if indeed their model is better in the real world and how the recruiter delivers.  If it works, you’ve expanded your network of service providers.  If it doesn’t, you haven’t improved your model but your trying, and that counts.

Here’s some observations I’ve had with recruiters for LM Foods.

  • VERY few will customize their intro letter.

    • Sometimes they cut and paste and you can tell as font sizes/color are different.  Lazy & Careless.  Can’t they even view the website to understand what you actually do?

  • Even fewer offer to come tour the business and get dirt under their nails.

    • So let me get this straight, you want 20% of year one salary and you don’t even want to see my operation that you’ll be recruiting for?

  • Few will offer 100% cash refund at a reasonable interval, “if the employee doesn’t work out in 6 months we’ll refund 100% of the money!”

    • They get it, hiring is a crap shoot and there’s a reason why few will do this.  But doesn’t it undermine the premise of their very own marketing materials?  And since very few will offer this, isn’t that by definition a clear path to differentiating their product?  Wouldn’t the built in risk make them better at their craft?  

  • Many try and control the process (communication), protect the candidates identity, contact info, etc.  As if they “own” the individual and a company will steal the candidate in hopes of doing a back door hire to avoid a recruiter/agency fee.

  • I understand they are in the service business and some companies may try and “steal” a buck.  But the companies that do a back door hire are gambling with their reputations, and if they do, will the agency ever work with them again?  There is too much fear in this area and the recruiters should worry more about adding value vs playing protectionism.

    [Continue Reading…]

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2 Warning Signs in Talent Selection

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