Before I started writing this post, I was absolutely clear in my mind what I was going to write about. I had read a beautiful story in a book and I thought I would share that with my message. But, as I sat down to spill my thoughts on paper, it occurred to me that I should expand on the subject a bit. Almost all my readers are employed in one capacity or another. Some of you are even managing large teams and corporations. It got me thinking about what do you look for in a prospective candidate when making a hiring decision? After all, hiring the right people can make all the difference between building a mammoth organization or making your organization a woolly mammoth, that is, extinct.
As far as I am concerned, I am always on the lookout for an ace player. They always deliver. ACE, in the current context however, is not a word but an acronym. First up, A quick story:
The colonel apologized for being a few minutes late for the meeting. He was dealing with an “incident,” as he called it. As the officer in charge of the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, or OCS, in Quantico, Virginia, he took his responsibility very seriously. Though technically a school designed to train the officer corps, OCS, is more of an officer selection process.
On this particular day, something had happened with one of the officer candidates. In fact, it was so serious that they were considering throwing the candidate out of OCS altogether. I wondered what crime he had committed.
“He fell asleep on watch,” said the colonel. This guy fell asleep. He wasn’t in combat; he didn’t put any lives at risk. He fell asleep in the woods… of Virginia. “And that’s enough to end his career?” I thought to myself.
“It has nothing to do with his falling asleep,” said the colonel. “When we asked him about it, he denied it. When we asked him about it again, he denied it again. Only when we showed him irrefutable proof did he say, ‘I’d like to take responsibility for my actions.’ The problem we have,” said the colonel, “is that taking responsibility for one’s actions must happen at the time you perform your actions, not at the time you get caught.”
I came across this anecdote in Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last. If you haven’t read this book, you may want to give it a go. It has wonderful lessons on why some teams pull together and others don’t (in fact, that’s the tagline of this book).
Who is an ACE player then? Read on.
You can hire the best person but if they possess a poor attitude, if they are not a team player, they are going to do you more harm than good. By attitude, I don’t mean that they are agreeable all the time or that they don’t resist or criticize. In fact, just saying yes to everything is just as bad an attitude. An ACE player is open to candid feedback and willing to work with others. They know that while they may be the best at what they do, with a good team, they will be better. People with poor attitudes, no matter how good they are, turn the company into a political battlefield. A sure shot way to destroy an organization.
Someone may have a great attitude, but if they are not competent at what they are expected to do, it’s even more catastrophic. People with good attitude and passion can become competent over a period of time, but as an organization you’d be paying for that time and learning. It is a sheer joy to work with someone who is competent. An ACE player may not know the answer, but they are competent enough to ask the right questions to arrive at the right answers at the right time. As they say, “The only thing more expensive than hiring a professional is to hire an amateur.” My personal philosophy is to never hesitate to pay more if you can, but just make sure you get someone competent.
If you take a moment to reflect on the lives of some of the most successful people around, you’ll find that each one of them possesses a very superior work ethic. Whether it’s a question of personal integrity or their work principles, it’s non-negotiable. In fact, if you want a long-term player, a true ACE player, excellent work ethic is the most important trait. (Hence, I chose to share a story on integrity out of the three values.) If someone has a superior work ethic, they will automatically have a good attitude because they wouldn’t want to pull their teammates down. If they have strong moral integrity, they would naturally become more competent each day because you need competence to deliver. The higher up you are in a company, the more important your team is. And to inspire a team, to get them to deliver, you absolutely need an ACE player.
Mulla Nasrudin was under a lot of pressure to find work after he had been fired from the previous one. “Just go and tell the truth,” his wife counseled him when he was applying for a new job. While filling out a job application he came to the question, “Have you ever been arrested?”
“No,” Mulla answered confidently.
The next question, intended for applicants who had answered, “Yes,” was “Why?”
Mulla went ahead and answered, “Never got caught.”
When the interviewer saw the response, he chuckled, and said, “Mulla, we are looking for someone very responsible.”
“Oh, sir, I tell you,” Mulla said, “you will never find anyone more responsible than I am.”
“Is that so?”
“Absolutely, sir,” Mulla said. “In fact, I’m so responsible that in my last job anytime anything ever went wrong at work, they told me I was responsible for it.”
ACE players go on to become amazing leaders. They are not afraid of facing criticism and taking responsibility. Indeed, true leaders are always ACE players, the rest are merely bosses. If you want to herd a flock of sheep, a boss will do, but, if you want to lead a pack of apex predators, you need a leader.
You need the kind of ACE that can coexist in a club, and call a spade a spade. If they also have a heart of gold, I tell you, you have an absolute diamond of an ace. Why, you have the full house, in fact. That you will win is a foregone conclusion then.
So, I do hope you have an ACE up your sleeve.
1. You can watch the ongoing (9-11 Dec) event live on os.me/live.
2. I’m holding an event for first-time-initiates in the ashram 24-26 of Feb, 2024. You are welcome to join if you like. Details here. (We’ll also broadcast it online on os.me/live.)
3. Those applying for initiation between 1-Oct till 31-Dec will hear from me on 14-Jan.
A GOOD STORY
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