Leadership involves surrounding yourself with the right people to achieve your mission and vision. You can have an innovative and inspiring vision, but if you do not have the right people to implement it you will fail. People often inquire how I fish for the correct candidate to hire for employment. I have been hiring and firing people for 25 years in secular and ministry settings. Of employees I have inherited, I unfortunately had to fire many. In one situation in particular I dismantled an entire dysfunctional program, firing 40 people over a two week period – without a doubt, sometimes leadership is not fun. However, of the countless folks I have directly hired over the years, I have not had to fire many. Pondering the past 25 years I estimate my success rate in hiring is 95% (i.e., 5% catch and release). What’s my method? It is CARP; not the fish but the acronym C.A.R.P
CHARACTER: The primary aspect I look for in a candidate is character. It trumps all other aspects, even if someone has amassed a wealth of experience or more educational degrees than an thermometer. Both Proverbs 22:1 and Ecclesiastes 7:1a attest to the importance of character. Character is almost impossible to discern on a resume. It requires probing discussion with references (not merely a template “glowing” recommendation letter) and with the candidate. Become an adept interviewer that can discern character during a candidate’s interview. Pierce the veil of periods of stress and trying experiences with candidates – these periods are where character is proven (Roman 5:4). Use all means necessary to reveal a person’s character. Call references, study their social media (Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest), etc. Does their “walk” displayed in social media match their “talk” in the interview?
ATTITUDE: The next aspect I look for is attitude. Give me someone with character and a great attitude and I can just about train them in any skill set they lack. Is the candidate teachable, flexible, and joyful? Do they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit? Ultimately I am looking for the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5, 3:15). Do not hire candidates who possess an attitude of entitlement – those who you perceive are more interested in benefits than the job. (By the way, benefits are BENEFITS that are subject to change, they are not entitlements)
RESUME: A candidate’s resume is only considered if they pass the first two criteria. Sadly, we have become obsessed with documenting how specialized we are in today’s milieu of self-promotion. Contemporary culture, especially academia, adheres to the working axiom “the thicker the resume the better.” We have forgotten how important humility is (Proverbs 18:12, Colossians 3:12, 1 Peter 5:5). Romans 12:3-8 reminds us that God has formed each person with unique gifts, talents, and acquired skill sets. Ensure that the candidate possesses the foundational skills required to fulfill your immediate needs and future growth and opportunities. Leaders must always have an eye looking towards the future.
PRAYER: Finally, but most importantly, pray for wisdom and discernment from God. After all, God made the candidate (Psalm 139:13-16) and completely knows the attitude of their heart (Jeremiah 12:3). Do not rush this last step – do not move ahead of God. It is better to wait for the correct candidate than to fill a position with a warm body. In the words of Red Adair,”If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” It will cost you more in finances, time, and organizational culture to hire the wrong person rather than wait for the correct person.
Happy fishing leaders!