About one month ago, I got an email from HR manager of a German automotive company that has a small branch located in Slovakia. He was interested in my services as a recruiter.
This man surprised me with the level of honesty he had, as he wrote me in the very first email that their branch in Slovakia was in serious troubles, and needs someone to make things better.
They needed there new director, who can speak Slovak language, and can lead the company back to success.
It was not a typical email from a typical HR person. No, not at all.
He described me the situation very well and very frankly (I could feel how it touches him personally and my guess isthat he could even not sleep well in nights, so concerned he was about this recruiting issue.)
This manager was looking for a natural leader, and it was apparent, that it was one of the most important issues he faced at the moment. “Seems like an easy task for me”, that was my very first thought.
After a longer phone call I agreed to take part in a project as a recruiter and started to search for a leader.
The model I used (maybe you would proceed differently?) was that I selected 23 people that fulfilled other requirements (background, experiences, few other soft skills etc.), and hoped to locate a natural leader among them, the right leader for this company and the situation it was in.
But guess what – I did not locate him!
I interviewed each of them personally during two days and at the end of the last interview I realized that I have not found what I was looking for...
Was there really not a single natural leader among these 23 people? (Many of them were current/ past top managers of other companies!)
Somehow, I was more impressed than disappointed with what had just happened. In fact, I was unable to think about anything else the following night.
And so I was lying in a bed, eyes closed,but no sleep at all (normal heart rate) and thinking. I realized that:
Among all these people, there was not asingle natural leader that can really change something in a company.
There was not a single person that reallycan lead this branch and the people working there to better times, betterresults and better lives. No, not at all…
But this was just the beginning of my thoughts…
I realized, that not only these people cannot lead the company... Many of them are unable to lead a team of people to acommon goal (most of them were former managers!)
When I get even further in my thoughts and thought about interviews once more in my head, I realized that many of these people were unable to even lead the interview and what was happening there. (OK, I know I should do that, but come on!, we were looking for a leader.)
And in fact, I realized that many of these guys can not even lead their own careers and lives... They can not lead themselves… how could they lead any other organism to success?
In that moment, I understood why the manager of that German company was so honest to me and why I had the feeling that this issue really matters so much for him…
I thought a bit about people living around me. I thought a bit more about people working on various managerial positions I know very well personally. I thought a bit about people that “lead” our country…
And after all I finally got it. This was not the easy task at all. In fact, it was the toughest recruiting task I ever got – to find a real leader.
Next morning I called the German manager and apologized to him. "I can not continue to work on this project", I said to him.
Because do you know what? (this I did not told him of course) If I was able to find a kind of person this clever old man was searching for, I would employ him by myself! Or at least, I will try to make him involved in something what really matters to me.
And so here we are both, me and this old German HR manager, in the search for real leaders. Does anyone knows where to look for them?