Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

How to Spot an Eagle

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Aardvarks are really good at one thing: eating bugs — sometimes 50,000 in one night! No other creature on the planet can match their appetites. Star performers in their own corner of the
jungle, when they tuck a napkin under their aardvark chins, they produce impressive results, just like your hardworking employees can in their jobs.

Too often, however, in an attempt to do the aardvark and the organization a favor, a decision maker will insist the aardvark fly like an eagle. There are no flying aardvarks. You can certainly
throw an aardvark out of an airplane midair, but you won’t end up with a flying aardvark. Being destroyed doesn’t motivate your employees, not the one who just failed or those who witnessed the crash.

So how do you know the difference between an aardvark and an eagle? How can you recognize those who can and will engage in the critical but difficult work of creating strategy? Whether making a hiring or promotion decision, based on the individual’s proven record of success, ask yourself the following:

  • Does this person understand how to separate strategy from tactics, the “what” from the “how”?
  • Can this person keep a global perspective? Or does she or he become mired in the details and tactics?
  • Do obstacles stop this person?
  • Can he or she create order during chaos?
  • Does this person have the ability to see patterns, make logical connections, resolve contradictions and anticipate consequences?
  • What success has this person had with multitasking?
  • Can this person think on his or her feet?
  • Can this person prioritize seemingly conflicting goals — to zero in on the critical few and put aside the trivial many when allocating time and resources?
  • When facing a complicated or unfamiliar problem, can this individual get to the core of the issue and immediately begin to formulate possible solutions?
  • Is this person future-oriented and able to paint credible pictures of possibilities and likelihoods?
  • How do unexpected and unpleasant changes affect this person’s performance?
  • When in a position of leadership, does this person serve as a source of advice and wisdom?

The core competencies that drive a particular organization may differ, but the ability to think analytically and dispassionately remains constant. The overarching question is this: “When
acting in a strategic role, has this person typically performed as needed?” If the answer is “yes,” the person probably has the innate talent to be a strategic thinker and will just need to improve requisite skills to support the talent. If the answer is “no,” don’t gamble by putting this person in a more demanding position. As valuable as the aardvarks of the organization can be, virtually all organizations need more eagles, strong critical thinkers who can learn from mistakes and make bold decisions.

Author: anamcgary

Ana McGary is a seasoned Human Resources and business professional with over 25 years of human resources management and executive leadership experience in Fortune 500 organizations, large and small companies in various industries. Ana is a results oriented HR Business consultant who offers business leaders and executives human resources and business guidance and solutions that enable them to grow and retain their employees and customers. She founded PeopleFirst Enterprises, Inc. in April 2010. PeopleFirst offers human resources practices, guidance and outsourcing services to emerging, small and midsize businesses in the Southeast market. In today’s changing world, capital is scarce. Because PeopleFirst is smaller than some of its larger competitors, we are able to provide similar services that are not pre-packaged and are designed to meet the business needs of each customer at a significantly lower expense. Ana’s areas of expertise include all aspects of human resources management, employment and labor laws, leadership development, multi-site operational management, operational policies, processes and procedures, staff performance optimization, benefits/compensation design, merger/acquisitions integration, and management and executive coaching. Her passions include organizational effectiveness, leadership coaching & development, facilitating individuals, teams and organizations to reach their maximum performance. She has written several articles for business publications and speaks at several conferences throughout the year. Ana has consistently been recognized by her customers as an exceptional communicator and professional adviser. Ana maintains her Professional Human Resources certification as well as her Paralegal certification requirements. She is an active member of The Society for Human Resources Management, nationally and within several southeast chapters. She is also a member of the International Coach Federation and the Georgia Coach Federation. Ana serves as a Board Member for It’s the Journey, Inc. A Georgia based charitable organization and producers of The Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. She is also a member of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is fluent in Spanish. PeopleFirst’s approach to Human Resources is partnering with executives, presidents, vice presidents, directors and business owners in managing the human side of the ever changing world of business. We combine creative strategy with tactical leadership to help organizations meet their desired business objectives.

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