Letter to Leaders – March 2021

I have a client that I’m close to (we’ll leave it at that).

Last month, they asked us for immediate help. A job opening they’d been trying to fill had garnered 8 resumes in three months. Each candidate wasn’t qualified for a fairly senior role.

“Can you help us immediately find someone?”

So my team put together several action steps to increase incoming resumes. I also decided to interview three people at the company who either have, or had, the same job.

(In case you didn’t know, adding videos always increases attention —especially on job posts).

I recorded a Zoom call with each of them. It was like a job interview; I asked their professional background and what the position was like. They also talked about the company culture. Their point-of-view is powerful, because it doesn’t come from HR or the hiring manager.

We turned the three videos around in 24 hours. We did basic editing, added graphics, and an introduction. I was proud of my team. It was immediate, powerful but—like many Zoom videos—not perfect. Some of the videos were fuzzy, the backgrounds weren’t the best, etc. But they were finished. And finished in record time.

The next day, one of senior executives decided they weren’t quite good enough. He told me they’d re-do the videos on their own. I wished him well.

Those videos, a month later, still aren’t done. Not coincidentally, the position is not close to being filled.

There are lessons for every leader in this:

  1. Curb your perfectionism. Perfectionism is one of the biggest obstacles to getting things done. Sometimes (actually, many times) very good is better than nothing at all. Anything we do can be better. But if you fall into that trap, you’ll fail.

  2. At most businesses, it’s 10x harder to get to ‘yes’; than ‘no’. In this company’s case, it takes the vote of each of the top 10 executive to say “yes”. But any individual executive can say “no”. When it’s easier to get to a “no” than a “yes”, the victims will be agility, creativity and progress.

Make sure you’re a leader who recognizes the importance of very good. Perfectionism has its place—but none of us are brain surgeons or nuclear scientists. We’re leaders, charged with progress, growth, culture.

And if you’re a CEO, business owner, or the lead in any business, re-think who can say “no” or “yes”. Without question, saying yes takes courage. If you say no, there’s zero chance you’ll ever get criticized or blame.

But fear of failure is not what leadership is about, is it?

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