A few weeks ago, I found myself in a conversation with a young man who was looking to make a move into the technology sector and asked me to share what I looked for in a candidate. I appreciated his curiosity and courage (it’s not always easy to ask for insight and feedback) and felt that his asking the question showed that he wasn’t a person who would allow his ego to get in the way of doing better. As a leader, I am always interested in finding qualified candidates who will do a great job and fit into our unique company culture; but equally important is finding someone who showcases their own willingness to lead whilst being comfortable taking the initiative and sharing their expertise with others in a compassionate and meaningful way. Today, I wanted to share 5 traits that will make you a standout applicant.
You are curious.
We have all heard the advice of Mr. Jobs to “stay curious”, so much so that it’s become somewhat of a throwaway phrase. I find this rather disappointing as there is so much wisdom in the statement. Curiosity is what moves our society forward, it’s what brings people together and allows us to grow as individuals, teams, companies and societies. When you ask “why” and “how”, you open the door for communication and gain access to information that those who walk through life asking close-ended questions (or worse, no questions at all) will never have. Those who are curious will always have the edge and I want those with the most information on my team.
You take ownership.
Successful people don’t always slide into their role and start hitting the marks on day one, but when they show up, they pay attention and fail fast. These are the men and women who are not afraid to take up space in a room and they will let you know what they know and don’t know. They are accountable for both their wins and losses and they aren’t ‘yes’ men and women. Ownership means that they are not afraid to fight for what they believe in and that is something every good boss wants. We hired you because we believe in your expertise, so teach us something!
You are positive.
Misery may love company, but no one enjoys being around someone who is constantly throwing out reasons they “can’t” (read: “won’t”) do something or why those around them shouldn’t even bother giving it a go. Whilst it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to come in with a huge grin on their face every Monday morning, a good attitude will make the workday better for everyone and do wonders for your reputation amongst the team. It will also make you more 12% more productive (something I will notice!).
You want to lead.
A good leader will want to lead. Good leaders rise up and accept the challenge of leadership. There are some theories that would suggest that people are born leaders, I don’t agree. There may be some inbred characteristics that make it more likely, for example, the ability to learn, but even if you provide all of the training and opportunity to this type of person, they fundamentally need to want to lead.
You embrace change (rather than backing away).
Leaders are agents of change. To be successful organisations and people have to change and adapt. Never has this been more obvious than today when so many traditional organisations have been put out of business by startups that set out to do things differently. Leaders embrace change rather than backing away, they have a vision, they may be demanding, but they are willing to take people on a journey with them.