Behind the Music: Leadership and job opportunities

I’ve been an executive and human resources roadie for 25 years. Been with one-hit-wonder companies, make-the-most-of-a-trend companies, those that are all flash and auto-tune … and those with staying power. One of the things I love about human resources is I get an all-access pass into the executive world. I’ve learned the most about how decisions are made that affect companies — from top to bottom – by paying attention behind the scenes.

There are some truly great leaders at the top of many companies: Gifted, visionary, astute business people, with good hearts and minds. But know there are also companies riddled with divas, egomaniacs, skirt-chasers, the easily distracted, and some people that are truly over their heads. The best of the best run their companies without a lot of distraction. They can best be described as:

  • Simple
  • Defined
  • Consistent

When you are exploring your next career opportunity, evaluate the company on these standards. Think The Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Abba or Queen. They all stand the test of time with talent and a unique sound. A good company, one with strong leadership talent and long-term relevance, hits these notes.

  • Truth is valued from all levels within the company
  • When an employee tries something new, leaders speak words of encouragement, not criticism of imperfection
  • You can get to the top executive if you need to speak with him or her, and he/she listens
  • The company anticipates trends (customers, economy, technology) and adjusts accordingly
  • Your role makes sense in achieving the company’s vision
  • There is the opportunity for promotion or role expansion for you
  • Your pay is based on your performance, with objectives set collaboratively
  • Succession plans are openly discussed
  • There is a little humor every day at work; something that makes you smile with your co-workers or customers and keeps you coming back
  • There is a legitimate employee recognition program
  • Your opinions are solicited and valued
  • There is an incentive for team or individual performance toward company goals
  • Everyone can share the spotlight, not just the top executive(s)
  • Non-performers are cut (respectfully) from the team, not passed around and not avoided
  • The company hires people who can do many things, not just one thing exclusively
  • You are not hired to do something, then asked to do something vastly different or unrealistic
  • Tears, screaming and fits are not regular occurrences (if at all)

If you are exploring a new position, plug in and listen for these qualities as you go through the interview process. Ask as many questions as you are being asked.

If your current position is lacking many of these qualities, pull back the curtain at the top. I’ll bet you my Double Neck Gibson SG you’ll find a David St. Hubbins, or worse, Milli Vanilli, at the helm. If this is the case, it may be time to plan a road trip to get away from the posers and toward a company that truly values you.

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