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A Matter of Attitude

Date Posted: November 5, 2016

A few weeks ago, I addressed a group of about 4 thousand incoming freshmen at a local university. Contrary to their expectations, instead of going into a long-winded speech, I asked the audience a question: “If you could determine the single thing capable of taking you from where you are to where you want to be, what would that be?”

Not surprisingly, many of the young people present answered well humoredly and replete with uncertainty. Rich father, influential sponsor, determination, knowledge, luck…were among the many responses from the audience.

Their discomfort was palpable when I told them that, based on my own experience of more than four decades dealing with talented people and successful careers, and notwithstanding the validity of their opinions, that the single most important consideration is ATTITUDE.

As a headhunter and someone who promotes and motivates talent in search of high executive positions, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been contracted to find a substitute for an executive who was found to be “suddenly lacking in technical expertise.” Even though the client may express a “need” to change the occupant of a certain position in terms of a specific failure, I can assure you that in 9 out of 10 cases, the client is actually signaling that they were let down by certain acts or omissions on the part of the current executive as relates to their expectations.Your attitude is your differentialIn the vast majority of cases, the executive about to be replaced had not exhibited the attitude expected of him on the part of his superiors. He failed to occupy the “space” that came with the job title. He was out of tune with the moment and out of touch with his leadership responsibilities. The explanations are many but, in synthesis, the individual has to be replaced because he/she is not exhibiting the proper attitude…that attitude expected in a certain moment or under present circumstances.

And this is even more the case in closely held or family businesses where, more often than not, credibility involves personal sensibility of the owners and/or shareholders.In defense of those to be replaced, the questions to ask are: did they act intentionally in a manner to provoke dissatisfaction on the part of decision makers? Where they consciously exceeding their limits? Did they realize that their acts or omissions would appear “disagreeable” in the eyes of their superiors, their peers or their subordinates? The answer is emphatically NO. Much of our behavior occurs subconsciously and in such a way as to leave us unaware – literally “clueless” – as to what needs to be modified, unless pointed out to us. And our cluelessness can cost us our jobs. But the problem is not merely one of holding on to employment. It directly affects the results of the business.

It is essential that companies understand that, not infrequently, an improvement in our bottom line depends not so much on changing heads as it does in changing the mind-set of those in management and decision making.

This is perfectly feasible through processes like BEST IN CLASS which I have applied with measureable results to clients throughout Brazil.

Write or call me for more detail information on this subject.

Simon M. Franco