Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to Land the Leadership Job of Your Dreams

With the jobs picture swinging away from your favor, we know that there are more qualified and talented people competing for fewer jobs. So once you and your fellow candidates are matched for skills and number of years of experience, you have to find other ways to set yourself apart and shine brighter than your competition. You can compete by being the cheapest to hire – but that would be a bummer. (And who wants to work for a cheapskate company anyway?)

Here’s a better way to stand out and get paid what you deserve: Show your interviewer that you have the heart and smarts to hire, inspire, lead and keep great people.

Regardless of what the economy is doing, first-rate companies haven’t forgotten that creating and sustaining an engaged workforce continues to be the secret to their competitive edge. And they want managers who will help them make that happen.

Engagement continues to be where it’s at: Top-drawer employees throughout the ranks are expensive to hire. And they’re expensive to lose, and even more expensive to replace. Passionate people volunteer their discretionary efforts and genius above and beyond the call of duty. They say good things about their company and the company’s products. They recommend their company as a great place to work. And they’re more likely to stick around, even if someone else offers them brand, spanking new jobs at better pay.

Who makes these golden employees feel all these warm and fuzzy feelings? Why, their bosses do, of course. And that would mean you.

So, while all those other candidates are yammering on and on and on (and, by the way, on) about their technical skills and years of experience, set yourself apart by talking a little bit about your journey to becoming an amazing manager.

Here are some of the questions you should be prepared to answer:

* What would you say are the characteristics of leader who keeps his/her team motivated and focused on the goal?
* As a manager, what do you consider to be your primary responsibility?
* Tell me about a time when you led your team through an extraordinary project or accomplishment.
* If you’ve been a manager before, talk about a time when you saved an otherwise great employee who was in danger of losing his/her job?
* What characteristics do you look for when interviewing people for jobs?
* What do you do when you see a high-potential employee’s performance begin to fail?
* What are your opinions about annual performance reviews?
* Let’s say you have to implement a major change inside your department. What steps would you take to get your team to help you make that change?
* Tell me about a time when you learned something about yourself when dealing with a challenging employee situation.
* Who was your most influential boss so far and what did you learn from that person?
* How did you grow as a result of your last job?

As a seasoned manager, or someone who is ready for that next step, you should be ready to have answers to these questions. Even if you haven’t been a manager yet, you should be thinking about these things now.

Here’s another tip: Don’t wait to be asked those questions…it could be that your interviewer may not be savvy enough to ask. But, if you volunteer a few well-thought out comments that demonstrate that you’re a sensitive, thoughtful, wise people leader – one who is also humble enough to know you have lots to learn from your own direct reports – you will send the hiring company the signal that there’s just something about you that they must have on their team.

A special note from Martha: If you’re a manager, your company is counting on you to be an engaging leader. But what exactly does that mean? And how do you do engagement? Just because you’re brilliant at your technical skills, that doesn’t mean that you’re a natural at people skills. New managers need a book that can help them figure it out in simple, straightforward ideas.

That’s why I wrote The Truth About Getting the Best From People. It’s a book made up of 49 short, simple truths designed to help new managers understand how their beliefs and behaviors directly impact their employees’ passion factor on the job.

Click on the title and check it out! I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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