Why Great Leaders Take Risks On Others

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A career in recruitment has taught me many valuable lessons.

The biggest of which has been how difficult it is to predict hiring performance.

Sometimes, hires that look perfect during the interview process end up being disastrous. Other times, candidates that seem shaky initially end up being rock stars.

Yet whatever the formula that is followed, one thing is certain:

The ability to recruit effectively is a critical skill to master in leadership.

The problem is, with hiring being such a high risk business, hiring managers often end up waiting endlessly for the perfect candidate. Expectations can become high. Hence they have comprehensive check-lists of “must have” skills, qualifications and experience.

Which results in a further problem:

When the perfect candidate does (eventually) arise, he or she ends up attracting attention from several companies – which can mean having to pay much more than you had initially budgeted just to outbid the competition.

However, in 12 years as a recruiter, I’ve noticed that the highest performing leaders often do something different.

Rather than indulging in a bidding war with competitors for the “perfect” candidate, they often look somewhere else.

Instead of simply focussing on the typical “must-have” check-lists, they are prepared to be flexible and hire those people that most of the competition wouldn’t even consider.

Because they know that sometimes, this is where the hidden gems can lie.

Here are some reasons why great leaders take risks on others.

It’s more efficient

The talent market has never been more competitive.

With companies growing faster than ever, and the growth of platforms such as our beloved LinkedIn, reaching out to people who fit our “perfect” profiles has never been easier.

The problem is, everyone else is doing exactly the same thing.

Want to hire a graduate from Stamford?….So does everyone else.

Running a boolean search for people with “bitcoin”, “big data” or “digital”?….So are thousands of others.

Only looking for someone from your small circle of competitors?….You’re just another inmail.

Great leaders understand the simple rules of supply and demand. They realise that by looking at things differently and having a more flexible approach they can move more efficiently and effectively.

Rather than spending large amounts of time and money in only considering “traditional” types of talent that everyone else is prioritising, by taking risks on others they often can move more quickly and get much better value.

Allowing them time to scale and grow much faster.

Great leaders move quickly.

It builds loyalty

At some point in our lives, all of us have needed a break.

Only be told we lacked experience, came second to a more qualified person or simply were too far away from what the company was looking for.

It can be tough. All we are desperate for is just one chance. The opportunity to prove ourselves. It seems unfair that others are given preference simply because of the university they went to or the job they luckily landed as a graduate 15 years ago.

When it comes to choosing the right followers, most managers adopt a very short term approach. They often want to only select people who can fix an immediate problem or issue. Hence their criteria can be very narrow – only selecting those from a very specific background who are considered “low risk”.

However great leaders are different. They realise that long term consistency can only be built by adopting a two way approach. They understand that by taking risks on others that most of their competitors wouldn’t even consider, they demonstrate the willingness to invest and trust in others. That they prioritize the right attitude over the right CV.

By taking this leap of faith on others, they understand that it builds mutual loyalty thats hard to replicate.

Great leaders build loyalty.

It creates innovation

When we seek the right acquaintances in life – whether at work, socially or in our relationships – we tend to choose people who are most like ourselves.

Or at least the types of people that we are “used” to dealing with.

It’s because it eliminates the nature of the unknown and makes us feel safe. Makes us feel comfortable that we’ve reduced the chance of making a mistake or being let down by another.

It’s why we tend to employ the same types of people as past “successful” hires. Or have friends that share the same interests and beliefs. Or even choose people based on reccomended “referrals” from our small existing networks.

The problem is, in order to change and grow, often it’s necessary to have a fresh perspective. Perhaps even a totally opposite point of view. Which means often considering people who might be outside our traditional “comfort zone”.

Great leaders understand that disruption and innovation are usually closely linked. By taking risks on others and exposing them to new challenges great things can happen. New ideas, approaches and even solutions can be found using a totally fresh perspective.

They realise, that by bringing unconventional people into traditional working environments sometimes groundbreaking things can happen.

Great leaders disrupt to innovate.

Conclusion

Who we surround ourselves by is often a big part of our success.

Hence it’s understandable if we’re careful to choose our key partners in life.

However being careful doesn’t mean not thinking outside the box or giving opportunities to those who might not expect it.

Great leaders understand that rather than just following the masses, sometimes taking risks on others who might be overlooked by the competition can be even more powerful.

Does your leader take risks on others?

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