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Hire For Characteristics, Not Experience

July 18, 2007
Employees who excel succeed on their own terms.

"Leadership is great, if you are a born leader," says Herb Greenberg, CEO of Caliper. "But it's not always the key to success."

As he discovered while doing research for his book " Succeed On Your Own Terms," success is a byproduct of loving what you do and doing it your own way.

Looking specifically at what makes women successful leaders, Greenberg points out that women are good at these areas:

  • Assertiveness
  • Persuasiveness
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Sense of urgency
  • Less trapped by rules
  • Empathy

Women do have a disadvantage is that they are a little more thin-skinned then their male counterparts says Greenberg. However if a woman is assertive and persuasive she can turn the rejection she might feel into action. An example Greenberg sites in the book is that of Susan Rice, CEO of Lloyds TSB Scotland. Early in her career male colleagues would get credit for her ideas. Not anymore, she speaks up for herself and has strengthened her voice.

Mentoring is also critical to ensuring that women, and all employees, are successful in their jobs. "I recommend that every company invest in a mentoring program, and the mentor needs to be a colleague and not the boss," explains Greenberg. A mentor can help an employee pinpoint areas of strength and build careers on those qualities. It will also encourage loyalty says Greenberg.

See more on women in manufacturing, including additional articles and educational resources.
Flexible working conditions are often a key factor as to how women judge their jobs. Women still tend to hold the majority of the family responsibilities and companies that can take into account these outside roles will be better able to retain their female employees, explains Greenberg.

But the most important aspect of any employee's success, male or female, is their ability to use their own unique talents. "Don't rely on past experience as a way to predict success. Find out what talents and attitudes people have. Test them. Interview them," says Greenberg.

"Everyone has key strengths and key limitations. The real winners in this world are those individuals who know their strengths and are able to create situations that play to their unique abilities -- where their limitations are of little consequence. These are people who are not just succeeding, they are succeeding on their own terms," says Greenberg.

Greenberg extends this philosophy to the labels placed on younger employees. "Forget Gen X and Gen Y, these are individual people with their own set of unique talents. Find out how they can apply these talents to your company. Encourage their creativity. Don't try and fit them into a job description."

In his research he, along with Patrick Sweeney, executive vice president of Caliper, identified nineteen characteristics of successful people.

They are:

  • Perseverance
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Self-Awareness
  • Resilience
  • Willingness to Take a Risk
  • Thriving on Pressure
  • Optimism
  • Empathy
  • Competitiveness
  • Patience
  • Persuasiveness
  • Confidence
  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Trust
  • Having Fun
  • Being Open
  • Creativity
  • Courage

Greenberg offers this advice to employers looking to move their companies forward, "Don't concentrate on what promising job candidates have done. Look for what they have learned from what they've done. The most important thing to look for is potential."

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