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Do You Ask Leadership Candidates What They Stand For?


by Larry Sternberg, President at Talent Plus, Inc.

Leaders have to stand for something. We all have fundamental beliefs, values and biases that influence heavily how we see the world, what kinds of decisions we make, and what kinds of strategies we pursue. I believe the best leaders are self-aware. They can say what they stand for.

Can you articulate your values, beliefs and biases? Can you say what you stand for?

In the political arena, we ask aggressive questions to understand what a candidate stands for. For instance, does she believe government regulations inhibit economic prosperity? During Senate hearings to confirm a President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senators strive to understand how a candidate’s biases might influence their decisions. This strikes me as a very good investment of time.

In business, we spend plenty of time on pedigree — education, experience, accomplishments. We also do our best to assess a candidate’s character. We ask about vision and personal career goals. But I wonder whether we spend enough time understanding a candidate’s values, beliefs and biases. Now that I’m writing this post, I realize I can do better at this. I’m going to be more intentional about asking candidates to discuss these issues. I’m going to ask what they stand for.

I believe candidates with strong leadership talent will appreciate the opportunity to speak to these issues. I believe that questions along these lines will lead to more meaningful conversations during the selection process, and will contribute to the exceedingly important issue of fit.

As I work with my colleagues to develop a set of questions in this area, I’ll be happy to share them with you.

Thanks to my associate, Beth Bruss, for suggesting this topic.

Thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Larry Sternberg

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