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The Leadership Corner

Fred Peterson
Fred Peterson Enterprises, LLC

Fred Peterson

Athletic coaches who have the reputation of being the �best� don�t always know X�s and O�s better than their competition. More often than not, they have simply done a better job of attracting the right athletes, and placing them in the correct position on their team. Likewise, the winning business leaders are those who are most effective at attracting and positioning their best �athletes�. Thus is distilled the Art of Leadership. A leader�s job starts with attracting the right followers.

So, how do you as a leader attract and select the right �athletes� for your business team? Start by identifying what that ideal team member �looks� like. What attributes will contribute to their being a successful contributor to your team?

It would be simple if candidates wore signs; signs which identified their characteristics, or �graded� their attributes. Purveyors of some personality tests even claim to have identified tools which simplify the process of qualifying candidates. I too believe in personality testing�.. BUT here is the catch�. NOT as a tool of exclusion! AND certainly not as a �benchmark� which should be met before being hired. NO, personality profiling (DISC Profiles and others) should not be used to determine a candidate�s qualifications. There are far more reliable methods. DISC profiles should be used as a way to determine how best to communicate with your team, and as a tool to help them grow and learn how to become more effective with other team members, clients, suppliers and customers. For more information on DISC profiles visit,

The �acid test� which should be met by candidates is do they meet three critical thresholds.
  • Do they have Talent?
  • Are they Motivated?
  • Do they have the right Attitude?
Talent determines what a candidate is capable of doing!
Do they have Talent? This, of course, will vary from company to company and job to job. You, as the decision maker, need to determine exactly what abilities are necessary to succeed in your organization. Critical are those skills which you don�t have time, resources or the desire to teach; skills which should come with the candidate. You need to evaluate your candidate�s talent by conducting through background checks, skills testing, and intensive interviews. Is the candidate�s basic intelligence, skills and knowledge at a level where they meet or exceed your talent expectations?

Motivation determines what the candidate will accomplish!
Motivation is internal. The best leaders are those who find motivated �athletes� and then provide them with the tools necessary to succeed. When analyzing the motivation of a candidate, ask yourself; �does this person have a burn to succeed?�. All successful people have an underlying reason why they get up every day and do what they do. Your job is to ask questions, do background checks and make sure that the candidate has that underlying burn. Don�t be afraid to ask probing questions, like:
  • What drives you?
  • What are some of the successes about which you are most proud?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. What lessons did you learn, and how did it change you?
  • What really excites you?
  • Etc.
Upon asking the questions watch and observe the candidate. Look for visual and verbal clues. Listen to what they say, how they say it and observe their body language. These clues will give you a great deal of information as to the candidate�s level of motivation.

Attitude determines how quickly and how well the candidate will succeed. More importantly, it will give you a clue as to whether they belong on your team.

We have seen it over and over again; the talented, motivated athlete who was a cancer on the team. Additionally, there are many examples of groups of All Stars being beaten by good teams, consisting of lesser talent. You want to develop that kind of team. It starts by recruiting candidates with �can do� attitudes; those who embraces the mission of the team and looks for ways to achieve goals. BUT, don�t confuse positive speak with positive attitude! We live in a society awash in dime store psychology and sound bites of empty positive affirmations. Those with the right attitude don�t wear �rose colored glasses� and they don�t hide from the truth. They embrace it! They identify and name obstacles, and come up with strategies for achieving success. So, just like when identifying motivation, ask questions, and seek clues to correct attitude. Ask questions like:

  • Have you ever thought out and implemented a strategy that didn�t work out the way you thought it would? What did you do then?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you were backed up �against the wall� and had to fight your way out? What happened?
  • What do you look for from a co-worker (teammate) to help you achieve goals?
  • What do you think they should expect from you?
Again, observe the candidate as they answer the question. Further, invite them to ask you questions. Their questions will reveal even more about their attitude than any questions you could ask them.

So, as a leader in your organization, your job is to find and nurture the right members of your team. You probably already know the �X�s AND O�s�. Now go out and fill your roster with those talented, motivated athletes who possess the right attitude� and win the game.

Fred Peterson, Speaker, Advisor and Coach can be reached at:

Fred Peterson Enterprises, LLC
(818) 914-4730

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