When I would lead weekends for The ManKind Project, an international men’s organization that supports men live their lives with accountability, generosity and with missions of service, we often spoke of how men with different levels of experience staffing had a completely different perspective of the same weekend.
The less experienced staff might just be thrilled to be there and focused purely on their individual assignments. Those who had staffed several times could like at things beyond the individual task to be done and look to fill in where they saw gaps. Their view of the workshop was at a higher level. We discuss the staff hierarchy and then get to the weekend leader who could see things like an eagle from 100,000 feet and be able to zero in on pivotal moments in the weekend and swoop in and advance it. As leaders, we would mentor/coach key people at critical moments and, only if necessary, step in with the certainty of our authority and responsibility and handle a key moment.
As a C-level professional or other senior professional interviewing with a firm, consider that you are moving to a new land where you may or may not know anyone or understand what your assets are stepping into a situation?
Here are a few ways to explore the new land and come to a decision about whether this is an organization that makes sense for you.
- Ask yourself, “What’s most important to you in the next job or organization? What will I need to see or hear to believe it is a great choice for me?” Everything starts with understanding what your needs and desires are. I am not suggesting that you be so rigid as to create a statue or shrine to these desires that you worship at. You do need to understand your target and what you are willing to be flexible about BEFORE you begin your search. This becomes a key document when you evaluate your decisions later on so do not skip over this and think that you know what it is. Until you put it down in writing, you risk tricking yourself into doing things that you really shouldn’t.
- What is the firm’s mission? I wrote an article called, “The 1 Question Every C-Level Candidate Should Be Asked (And a Lot of Non-C Suite Potential Hires, Too)” that encouraged employers to ask C Level professionals to ask whether a potential hire understood the firm’s mission. Why is it here (other than to make a lot of money)? Does it have a calling that you can get behind? Is it purely transactional (we sell stuff and try to make customers happy). There is nothing wrong with that if you can get excited by that You need to understand your personal calling and what you hope to get from your next job or organization.
- What are their cultural values and how do they mesh with yours? Often, senior professionals lose their way and become purely focused on short term goals that their boss has set for them and lose track of how in the new job everything they do should provide meaning and value to the firm and to themselves. No one will say, “We love renegades and mercenaries. Are you that way?” No, they will talk about integrity and cultural fit. Don’t take this at face value. Ask, “With so many smart capable people, what challenges would you expect we will face in working together to achieve our institutional “Why?”
- Use the STAR method of storytelling in reverse . . . with a twist. You have probably learned to tell stories following the STAR method. Describe the situation you stepped into, the tasks you and your team engaged in including any challenges or constraints, the actions you took and the results you achieved. Ask them about the situation you will be stepping into, the tasks you will be asked to perform coupled with challenges and constraints to achieving them, the actions they will want you to take as well as the results expected (and in what time). The twist is to get a clear understanding of the assets and resources available to you. I remember someone I represented as a headhunter who talked about joining a firm and was not understanding what he was stepping into. 80% of the money had been spent but only 20% of the work had been done to date. Ooops! Doomed to fail.
- You have a network. Use it. Don’t simply use your network for warm introduction it to validate what you are being told and minimize surprises. Surprises are rarely good. Remember to use your network to validate and confirm.
For you in the C Suite or in senior roles, you have an opportunity to lead, to survey the landscape from 100,000 feet and provide your unique perspective while accomplishing something significant to an organization while satisfying yourself.
Take time and follow the model to get there.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching.
Are you interested in 1:1 executive job search coaching or business life coaching? Email me at [email protected] and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line.
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