Best Practices From Influential Leaders: 3 Key Takeaways for Success

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The best way to grow in life is to learn by observing those before us who have managed to leave a significant mark in the business landscape. There are some people who have achieved much with their life, enough to make their opinions worth listening to. As such, we have highlighted certain strategies utilised by three influential leaders that we could learn from.

1. Google’s Global Staffing Lead and Senior Recruiter, Lisa Haynes, uses a ‘shocking’ strategy for new hires.

Haynes believes in team consensus for success. Much like the X-factor, potential employees must receive a ‘golden buzzer’ from Google’s multi-tiered hiring committee before employment is finalised.

To the working world, this is an unusual and seemingly ‘shocking’ strategy that takes more time and resources to accomplish. New managers who come onboard are often surprised to learn of this novel hiring approach. An individual alone (no matter the rank or position) is unable to give the final ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without a unified decision from the team. Upon acceptance, the hiring manager then passes this review on to the independent committees. The best part of this chain, says Haynes, is that unlike the hiring manager, committee members are not hardpressed by the urgency of selecting someone and are able to judge the applicant solely based on merit.

She goes on to explain that very often, employers rush and are resultantly rash when settling for a suitable candidate. Some employers even go as far as to base their hiring decisions on reputable relationships or as a favour to someone. Google’s Boss-lady (Haynes), is confident that this foolproof strategy is the secret to securing the very best talent, allowing the company’s potential to be fully maximised. She explains that “Bad hires have a really long-lasting negative effect on a team or a company’s culture. It’s way better to take the time and go through a very robust hiring committee on the front end and then identify the best possible candidate the first time around.”

In today’s working world, where there is a shift and merge in roles to keep up with the demands of competitors and consumers, Google zeros in on applicants with problem-solving and general cognitive abilities, more than role-specific competency. This is particularly pivotal for a thriving company like Google in which employees jump from team to team and from role to role, depending on the organisation’s dynamic needs.

“If you think about how quickly Google changes, if you just hire someone to do one specific job but then our company needs change, we need to rest assured that that person is going to find something else to do at Google,” quips Haynes. “That comes back to hiring smart generalists.”

Although this method does significantly slow down the employment process (especially in times of need), Haynes believes this approach will benefit the tech giant in the long run as it enables them to select the cream of the crop; applicants who are intrapersonal and flexible above all.

Now we know how Google rises above competition and maintains its good reputation.

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2. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, says one email
led him to turn Amazon into an “everything store”.

Let us dive into Bezos’ phenomenal success story, which hinges on a simple e-mail that changed the trajectory of Amazon and placed it on the global map. It is unimaginable to think that Amazon started in a dusty garage back in 1994 selling only books which were manually mailed out via the post office. Bezos and his small staff team spent their early days working on desks made out of doors purchased from Home Depot. Since its humble beginnings, Amazon has rapidly transformed to include inventory spanning across a wide array of products, media and services. In a 2018 interview, Bezos shared the secret to his growing success. It was as simple as shooting an e-mail to 1,000 randomly selected customers, to who he asked plainly, “Besides the things we sell today, what would you like to see us sell?” His “seemingly obvious” approach esteemed the importance of listening to customers, inventing on their behalf, and personalising itself to provide for the varying needs. Bezos explains that “each new product and service we offer makes us more relevant to a wider group of customers and can increase the frequency with which they visit our store.”

Against the backdrop of Amazon’s 25-year evolution, Bezos’ smart tactic of consulting people outside of its circle has proven successful. When reinventing and expanding itself, Bezos looked beyond himself and his employees. By approaching customers directly, he managed to build a business that appealed to virtually everyone. One of the many takeaways from this big retailer: Do not be afraid to ask your customers questions and listen intently to what they want. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a team member trying to think up ideas for your company, practising customer-centric conversations can enable you to make quick, valuable and smart decisions.

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3. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, prizes following his gut when making important decisions.

When making the big jump from Compaq to Apple, Cook, (who is now the new face of Apple since the passing of the late, Steve Jobs), followed his intuition over careful analysis and advice from his friends. Interestingly, Cook’s success is not fully dependent on a carefully mapped out plan, but rather, moving on his instincts from a gut-level. Although he considers himself an analytical engineer at the core, he often trusts his intuition for important decisions. According to Cook, “There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate–when a particular course of action just feels right. And, interestingly, I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable.” This method has been applied throughout Cook’s employment at Apple, since his hire in 1998. There is no doubt that this risque decision-making process has led Apple to venture into new technological territories

Cook stands behind this somewhat controversial approach by saying, “If my intuition had lost the struggle with my left brain, I’m not sure where I would be today, but I’m certain I would not be standing in front of you.” In his speech at Auburn University, Cook shared that, “The biggest decisions are sometimes the ones where choosing logically simply won’t get you to the right answer.” Following his gut was indeed life-changing for Cook.

In a recent interview, Cook highlights that Apple has an eye for candidates who have a penchant for uniqueness. This pool of people has a common desire to do things differently and look at things differently, amongst others. There is a special place in Apple for potential employees who do not take ‘No’ for an answer. Leading in state-of-the-art technology, Apple prizes potential employees who do not simply roll over in the face of defeat. It is important to stay unsatisfied with the status quo and constantly ambition to make a positive change in the world we live in.

Conclusion

In conclusion, some of the most important takeaways from influential leaders can be summed up in three keys:

  1. Break out of the box when it comes to your position and role. Your peers might be polishing themselves up to fit the conceived notions of the job at hand. You can stand out by bringing something different to the table, making you indispensable and sought after by future employers.
  2. Ask for feedback. The best way to know what you lack and how to improve on yourself is to simply seek out knowledge from those proven valuable in your circle. Take time to listen and weigh possibilities, even if they seem impossible at first.
  3. Be bold and follow your instincts after you have evaluated the cost and benefits. Your right brain knows things even if you cannot quite logically explain it sometimes. Constantly reinvent yourself to remain relevant in this evolving era.

References:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/10/google-uses-this-shocking-strategy-to-hire-the-best-employees.html#:~:text=Here’s%20how%20hiring%20decisions%20are,someone%20at%20Google%20and%20external
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/08/jeff-bezos-amazon-turned-into-the-everything-store-because-of-an-email-i-sent-in-1997.html
https://fossbytes.com/apple-ceo-tim-cook-tells-how-to-get-a-job-at-apple/
https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/steve-jobs-tim-cook-learned-a-clever-way-to-make-big-tough-decisions-heres-how-it-works.html


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