Friday, July 26, 2013

Surrounding Yourself With More of You

When it comes to the challenges of building an executive team, nearly every CEO or business owner will say to me: “I’m a really good judge of character, so I go with my gut.” Too often, as a result, these leaders shortcut a thorough interview, and that perfect person turns out to be a terrible technical or motivational fit, resulting in more turnover or worse, an employee who stays and makes everyone else miserable.

Surrounding yourself with people you “click with” because they share your same strengths, values, and ways of thinking are exactly the people least likely to challenge your decisions or catch the balls you drop. That’s a risky game to play in a competitive marketplace where diversity of thought and creative offerings are what keep organizations alive. When you surround yourself with more of “you,” you set up—or, worse, institutionalize—blind spots that can prevent you from seeing oncoming challenges.

When you hire others who live on your wavelength, you unintentionally create a support system of people who are not equipped to challenge you, to question your thinking, or to offer you a different perspective and direction. You essentially become trapped in a self-made bubble, missing opportunities to hear valid dissent, better approaches, or alternative ideas. Consequences range from stagnation and disengagement, to monotony or rigidity. Putting your emotional intelligence to work in the hiring and promoting process can help prevent these blind spots from occurring and give you a new way to think about what makes for the “perfect” hire.

What if a leader’s preferences and point of view so closely match those around them that they develop collective team blind spots? This represents a significant organizational risk that can escape the collective consciousness until it’s too late.

It’s perfectly natural to be drawn to someone who understands you. You may finish each other’s sentences and bristle at the same annoyances. I know it’s tempting in the interview to think, “Wouldn’t it be great to work with that person?” Regardless of the type of similarities, as an interviewer, you must be aware of any temptation to give priority to hiring or promoting someone who is similar to you, rather than consciously seeking out individuals who are able to bring a unique approach or mindset to the team or to offer a special skillset that’s needed for success. Surrounding yourself with more of you is a sinister trap, because it lures you with a mirror that reflects your strengths, your style, and your language, while silently multiplying your (admittedly few and relatively minor) shortcomings. I know, a “mini-me” is as much fun to be around as you are. But wouldn’t it be even better to surround yourself with skills complementary but not identical to yours? People who would thrive in areas you would rather hand off anyway? 

This article is an summary excerpt from Ego vs EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps Using Emotional Intelligence. Click here to order a copy of the book

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dare, Dream, Do by Whitney Johnson

I enjoyed DDD so much, before I even finished it, I ordered two more copies for friends that I knew would benefit from Whitney’s message. Her own stories, combined with the many others in this book, are diverse yet all connect with a main theme of regaining focus and purpose-driven living. If you have a dusty dream or haven’t thought about it before, this book provides some simple yet effective strategies for creating a more fulfilling life and regaining your personal power.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Much More Could You Be Making?

I had the pleasure of meeting Allison McGrail of Allison Hope Photography ( to have some new headshots taken (look below to see how they turned out). She did an excellent job accommodating my requests which included about 4 wardrobe changes, indoor studio shots, outdoor close up shots, garden shots, etc. She spent extra time with me and met all of my requests with a smile. When it came time to pay for my sitting fee, I was prepared to pay at least double what she charged me. I thought, "I need to tell her she is undercharging, she doesn't understand her value here." (I have since done that).

Later that very same day, I was on the phone with a client who I had just completed a small project for and she said, "I need to tell you something as a friend. You are undercharging by about half." I almost fell out of my chair. Damn. Why is it so clear to see someone else undervaluing their worth but nearly impossible to see it in ourselves? Is it a female thing? Is it a small business owner thing? I would love to hear your opinions on it. Please post comments...