Finding yourself / How to become a leader / How to expand your network / How to get the job

Headhunting for more Steve Jobs-es

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As a headhunter, each time I kick off a new search, I work with my client to create a profile of our ideal candidate. I profile him or her across three “buckets:”

BUCKET A:  Qualifications: The candidate’s past experience and education, knowledge and technical skills. In other words, everything that goes on a resume.

BUCKET B:  Leadership Competencies: How the candidate actually behaves in the workplace. We identify the most important leadership behaviors that will be needed for success in this position.

BUCKET C:  Personal Characteristics: Who this candidate is as a person. His or her values and motivations.

I work with my client to define all three buckets, because in my experience, companies often hire on the basis of “Bucket A” – the resume – and yet promote and fire based on Buckets B and C – how the person actually behaves and who this person actually is. This disconnect can result in huge costs and missed opportunities, both for the companies and for the people they mistakenly hire.

As for what motivates Steve Jobs, it’s very simple and we all know it. He aims to change the world.

Aim to change the world in ways big and small

Everyone’s always telling me that China’s born-post-1980 generation are too selfish to think about changing the world, but the fact is that every job on earth is based somehow on making other people’s lives better. For it to inspire you, your career should be part of your having a sense of purpose. It shouldn’t be dictated by your parents, or by extrinsic factors such as amassing money or status.

What makes Steve Jobs special is what’s not on his resume

Steve Jobs shows us the fallacy of hyper-focusing on getting education and work experiences just to make our resumes look good. Before founding Apple, he went to a 2nd-tier college and dropped out before finishing. As he has said, the most important thing he got out of Reed College was its outstanding coursework in – hand calligraphy.

Your ultimate success will be based not on what your resume says, but on your Buckets B and C qualities. As I’ve blogged here:

Knowing how to think and how to relate to others are leadership skills prized not just by American companies, but by all companies. Including Chinese companies in China. As a headhunter, I’ve spoken with many CEOs – American as well as Chinese – whose companies are constrained because they lack people with skills in innovation and leadership. In fact, it is the shortage of these skills that keeps the headhunting industry in business.

Grades-mania – and the robotic submissiveness that it entails – is an albatross not only for Asians in America but for Chinese in China, because it’s only when someone does step out, and puts ideas together, and then activates others to work together to create value, that companies are born, people are employed, and society moves forward.

And of all this, nobody is a better example than Steve Jobs.

T-Shape Thinking drives innovation

When I talk about how a great leader thinks, I’m talking about T-Shape Thinking. With every breath, Steve Jobs marries technology with the humanities. He says:

Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that makes our hearts sing.

Nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices…that need to be even easier to use than a PC, that need to be even more intuitive than a PC; and where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC.

The result is Apple, according to technology analyst Horace Dediu:

The lesson the world should take from Apple is that a company needs to become multi-dimensional. It needs to mix the core business with the disruptive innovation. It needs to combine the intellectual with the artistic. It needs to maintain within it the rational and the lunatic.

Apple’s violent success should serve as a powerful beacon that others should follow. Rather than copying its products other companies should copy Apple’s processes–its way of thinking. They should copy how Apple harbors the creative process and the technology processes under the same roof.

If they do heed this call then we should look forward to the post-Jobs era as that time when large companies gained the ability to intertwine multiple core competencies. A time when humanism balanced corporatism.  A time when we came to reconcile the rational and spiritual.

The world has many pressing problems. Solving them will require supple minds and great leaders.

From the way Steve Jobs has approached his personal development, and how he has put his skills and values to use, we can all learn.


Comments welcome, in Chinese, on the Chinese version of this post, here.
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