The BBC World Service runs a daily programme called Outlook, presented by the admirable Matthew Bannister, which scours the world for extraordinary and uplifting stories of people who have come through adversity and have, in many cases, more than survived.
A recent programme, for instance, featured an Afghan woman who had opened a bowling alley (I kid you not!), a Saudi Princess speaking out against prejudice in the Kingdom and a Chinese man who had lost both his legs in an accident and had become a renowned sculptor.
It brought to mind the quote from the Roman philosopher, Cicero (106BC to 43BC) who said:
“The spirit is the true self. The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure”
What a great attitude with which to start any new week.
Talking to one of the members of my Vistage CEO peer group recently, he said that when he is hiring someone, he goes through all the obvious characteristics such as technology and experience, while he looks specifically for that spark that indicates a higher level of commitment and enthusiasm, in other words great attitude.
It is a manifestation of the spirit and can’t be assessed in any scientific or statistical way, nor perhaps should it be. It implies that the individual has an approach to business and indeed to life in general that is special. We constantly assess whether attitude and leadership are down to nature or nurture but we can’t teach great attitude.
Some people have that spark and we are truly fortunate when we can spot it and then help them to develop it.
These individuals are not always easy to manage but given a measure of freedom, their output can well justify the extra effort put into them.
In the end, it is the team that will deliver success and a group of high performing individuals can be a very exciting way to achieve that success.
It is useful to use the Belbin analysis of team types to help ensure that there is balance in the team but in every case it is talented people with the will to excel and win that we need above all else.
My old friend, US speaker Lee Thayer, says that every business should employ virtuosi, Steve Jobs said that he would only look for for A-players and Jim Collins says that we need to have exceptional people around us.
All of these opinions lead to the realisation that we really can’t afford to have B- or even C-players in the team.
Get the right people with the right spirit on the bus all facing in the same direction; they will make things happen.
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