Leadership training does not cure incompetent leadership!

Attending an executive training or reading innumerable books on leadership does not make you a leader.

This goes beyond the age-old argument of whether leaders are made or born. That useless debate has been put to bed a long time ago.

Leadership training at best introduces process driven, static and one-dimensional thinking.

It fills the head with knowledge of the subject, but we can’t be a leader with information alone.

The individuals who demonstrated poor leadership behaviour such as micro management for example were the same ones nodding their heads to the negative impacts of this management style in the classroom. Then, the very next day those are the same people, who were in such agreement are behaving with the same poor behaviour.

Training people this way does not address the obvious: lack of accountability for self-awareness and thereby sustained behaviour change that produces better result after the training.

Think about it this way: You signed up for music lessons and practiced exactly the amount of time your teacher told you to practice. No more. No less. Now, ready to kick-start your career as a professional musician? It was then, you realised you would never be a great musician, because a great musician would have been practicing at every spare moment she had — not just the prescribed 30 minutes per day.

And so it is leadership. The multibillion industry that intended to develop leaders has failed the organisations and society. It’s time to boldly say “the emperor has no clothes.”

So what does this mean for executives and business owners who want to develop leaders to help fuel growth in their organisations?

Organisations need “fertile soil” in place before the “seeds” of training interventions can grow.

If we can select people who have a burning desire and ongoing commitment to being a better leader and set up an environment for them, we’ll have much more success training people.

Lose the whimsical questions in a job interview

Interview questions like the following are the equivalent of “jump through this hoop for my amusement.”

“If you could be an animal, what would it be?” – What can you tell about someone if they answer a bird instead of a panda? We would never presume to ask this question to someone at the supermarket, or a place of worship.

“What colour crayon would you be?” – Now isn’t the time to play an amateur psychologist. If you want to gauge how the candidates think, test them on something useful for your business. Job applicants need to see a manager’s brain working too.

“Why should we hire you?” – Inviting a candidate for an interview was your decision. You’ll meet the other candidates, but they won’t. So why ask them to justify that?

“What would your past managers say about you?” – Their old boss could be a ham-fisted thug or a scoundrel that they’re trying to escape from for all you know.

Savvy interviewers have the ability to assess a candidate’s skills and ability by asking just a few, well-chosen, meaningful questions.

Insulting or whimsical questions equivalent of kindergarten-level have no place in a job interview.

People shop for a job these days. We need to accept the fact that job seekers hold at least 50 percent of the power in the recruiting relationship.

We don’t subject the plumber to an interrogation before we hire him. We treat the plumber as the professional he is.

Don’t command job seekers to grovel and beg for the job.

Start having human conversations with candidates.

Price the job, not the person

It’s that cringe-worthy job interview question you’d love to dodge:

“What’s your current salary?”

“And why does it matter?” – A response that we’ve all thought more than once in our lifetime.

Employers who inquire into salary history often claim that knowing what a candidate has earned in the past helps them to establish a framework for future negotiations over compensation and benefits, or to screen out candidates who are above the available budget for a position and presumably won’t be willing to take a pay cut.

But neither of these reasons holds water.

As a hiring manager, I don’t ask potential employees their current salary because it’s irrelevant and inappropriate.

Consider this: When you call a plumber to unclog your tub drain, do you ask what he charged the last person? No! You ask the plumber’s hourly rate. And if you don’t like the quoted cost, you simply don’t hire the plumber!

Second, if you’re really concerned that they’ll be unhappy with the salary you’re offering, why not consider a bold step and post the range for that position from the beginning or ask about a candidate’s salary expectations rather than their salary history.

Transparency and trust cut both ways.

They would love to know what you paid the last person in the job, too, but you’re not about to give them that information – so why do you deserve (or need) to know what they got paid in their last job?

Compensation should be a data-driven decision based on the current value of a given position in the talent market.

Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that asking about salary history perpetuates the cycle of income inequality.

Some employers use salary history to determine a new hire’s starting pay, providing a standard percentage increase over the new hire’s previous salary or otherwise directly correlating the new hire’s pay to her salary history.

What if a talent was grossly underpaid in their first job? They’ll continue to be underpaid in every job after that…forever!

How are they going to step up if they’re being paid $50K for a job that should be paying them at least $80K, but you only want to offer them $60K because it’s still more than their salary now, but $20K under budget?

It’s time to stop asking the question. It’s time to change old-school hiring practices.

No digging in the past. No low-balling. No prior salary checks.

Price the job, not the person. 

If you’re making a counter-offer, you’ve probably already lost!

If they’re really happy at work, they’re not interested in going down that path.

They want to go home.

They want to have dinner with their friends.

They don’t want to figure out how to sneak out of their workplace to take an interview.

What does it say about you as a business if a pay rise only comes when they say they are leaving?

Why didn’t that employee matter as much when they asked for a raise six months ago?

Counter-offers are band-aid; a product of panic.

You got caught with your pants down.

You had to do something quickly. You put your finger in the dyke.

When an employee starts looking for a new job, the battle for that employee is pretty much over anyway.

Employers often forget job searching is an exhausting, soul-crushing process; people go down that route only if they’re truly not content where they are.

The best retention strategy involves more than making a counter-offer to a departing employee.

Top performers don’t use quitting as a tactic to get a raise.

Companies with the highest retention rates are the ones where managers are having frequent conversations with the people they don’t want to lose.

Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty

He sometimes stay late not to impress the boss, but because he’s caught up in the moment and lose track of time.

He plug the holes in the process and system that nobody else was willing to get their hands dirty.

He steps in and solve issues that others are not solving.

He desires to help others to grow in their role, readily sharing his knowledge with others.

He cares about success – of the team, of the boss, and his own.

There’s no question about his intellectual capabilities, his deep-seated industry knowledge or his unparalleled functional experience.

He’s always the brain, never the name.

He’s the go-getter, but the plum assignment goes to who can talk the biggest talk.

He brings results, but the bulk of the strategic resources are given to those who don’t perform well enough to deserve them.

If you want your best and brightest to stick around, you’ve got to do better.

No one wants to be treated like a number or statistics tasked with carrying a job.

Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty.

Show them that they’re more than just a name on an HR folder

Leadership is service, not an entitlement!

They don’t want to interact with employees as humans, but just as numbers or statistics tasked with carrying a job.

They’re not invested in their people’s success, just their own.

They seek praise without lifting a finger.

When things go wrong, they are quick to throw others under the bus.

They rise to their level of incompetence.

They are living examples of the Peter Principle.

With less than stellar performance, their titles are elevated on the basis of seniority.

They get awarded with huge bonuses and pay packages.

They get the coveted corner office.

They’re called management. They’re called leaders.

They didn’t want to serve people; they wanted to sit in glory.

Leadership is service and not an entitlement.

Exit interviews, the sacred cow?

“It’s a closer commute.”

“I wanted to take time off work to go travelling.”

“I’m leaving for personal reasons. I’ve learned a lot here and will miss the people I worked with.”

But it’s not always as black and white as that.

The very reasons people are leaving sound exactly the same as when somebody break up with the person they’re dating. “It’s not you; it’s me.”

In other words, expect a very polite lie. Exit interviews have long been a one-way street.

What went wrong? Why are they leaving? You’ve missed the point.

If you haven’t been asking your employees about their concerns and grievances while they were employed and what would keep them at the company at least for another year, you aren’t going to have a “come to Jesus” experience reading the dark satire of an employee no longer at your company.

The exit interview shouldn’t be the first time employees are asked how they think about things.

That’s because the time for learning is past. The time for a better conversation is past.

The worst time to read advice is right after a break-up.

It’s too late to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Sure, you want constructive feedback.

But by all means a departing employee is the last person who’s going to give it to you straight.

There is very little upside in a tell-all exit interview.

It’s not the idea that’s broken, it’s the focus.

Foster the conversation each day. Talk through challenges.

Everybody wins this way.