Illustrations and Design: Angela Rogers
Leaders Are Made, but Servant Leaders Are Born
Some think you can’t make talent; you’re just born with it. Others think that after 10,000 hours of training you’ll become expert at anything. In terms of servant leadership, we think it’s both, in that order. (A multitude of different leadership styles exist, but we’ve chosen servant leadership as our goal.) While valuable leadership skills can be developed through training and practice, a servant leader is born with a high level of compassion, empathy and a desire to learn. By bringing into our company people with a humble, growth mindset and developing their leadership skills through RIDE (Relationship, Instill Meaning, Development, Executions) we’ve created a culture of servant leadership and it’s worked. We’d like to share our leadership development process with you: from hiring to training; and then to ongoing mentoring and coaching.
Raising up Leaders Begins with Hiring
“It’s important to not only instill meaning in what we do, but to hire folks who find meaning in what we do, and their role in particular. That way, their passions are aligned with everyone else in the organization and the meaning of the organization as a whole.”–Andrew Fayad, CEO
The critical point where we start establishing leaders happens right when we hire, at the very beginning. Often organizations wonder why they have horrible bosses and bad management. Hiring is where it all starts—at the very beginning. At ELM, we don’t set out to specifically hire “leaders,” that is, people who demonstrate natural authority or self-assurance. What we look for are people who value and cultivate healthy relationships, in other words, servant leaders. Servant Leadership works especially well for us, being in a learning and development industry. Our goal and purpose are not only to train one another but create a culture of continuous growth, learning, and development. Our hiring process really sets the tone for our organization. By intentionally seeking out people who value other people, we set ourselves up for organizational success
It´s important to not only instill meaning in what we do, but to hire folks who find meaning in what we do, and their role in particular. That way, their passions are aligned with everyone else in the organization and the meaning of the organization as a whole. -Andrew Fayad, CEO
Why the Traditional Hiring Process Doesn’t Work
The traditional process of hiring is archaic. In most organizations, it’s not done objectively, nor is enough emphasis put on reviewing for potential personality conflicts. They check the boxes for certain skill sets and then undergo an entirely subjective interview process fraught with potential for failure. Interviewing, in that sense, is just like dating. You usually don’t see anything real about someone in the first, second or sometimes even third date. Dating and interviewing are often complex impression management rituals involving creative uses of half-truths and lies of omission, for example, you would tell your date or the interviewer that you’re into minimalist living, but fail to mention that you sleep on a mattress in your parent’s basement.
To counteract this, many modern organizations use data from personality assessments to better hone in on potential candidates. From the beginning, we wanted to use as much as we could, statistically, to determine whether or not a person was capable of being a part of our organization, in that they fit in with the personality traits and behaviors we deemed to be culturally responsible. What we found with the assessment tools we tried were that it was too easy to ‘cheat’ on them and none of them were skewed towards our company culture. We asked Paul Fayad and Professor Chak Fu Lam at City University of Hong Kong to make one for us. No hiring process is perfect, but so far, we’ve seen positive results from this.
An Assessment for Hiring Servant Leaders
Our Personality Assessment Tool (PAT) is a digital questionnaire that all potential hires take, so we can determine whether or not their personalities match up with successful servant leaders within our organization. Fayad and Professor Lam derived this test from our own employees, leadership team and a poll of 4,000 other top performing people in their respective organizations. The PAT is timed with about 114 questions and takes 25 minutes. We have tested and used those results over the years and it works, as we now know what sections we like and where we want people to be. If a potential hire’s results match up with the kind of people we want; we put them through the interview.
The PAT’s Five Measurements of a Servant Mindset:
- Personality – We suggest different scenarios and ask how candidates would respond. This gives us an understanding of whether or not a candidate has a positive personality, i.e. are they compassionate, empathetic and do they enjoy relationships with people?
- Leadership Behavioral – Do they focus on mistakes, are they forgiving, do they foster a higher learning environment?
- Customer Service Mindset – We measure how they will meet the needs of the customer. Are they positive during unfavorable outcomes, e.g. if a customer asks you to do something against company policy and procedures, would you do it?
- Change Champion Mindset – They don’t have to want change to occur, but do they support it? Are they open to it? Our rationale is that change occurs, always. People that have an aversion might slow down the process and we won’t be nimble as an organization with those people.
- Honesty Score – This is a series of questions we ask to determine whether or not the person is using impression management to pass the test.