How to Hire an All-Star

How to Hire an All-StarAny of you looking to hire an amazing person for your organization?

Figuring out how to hire a new team member can be hit or miss. This is something we often deal with when working with our clients.

There is a simple but effective concept that I have learned from my business partner, Steve Cockram, that will help.

It is simply understanding the DNA, Skeleton and Skin of your business and the desired new hire.


First, define the DNA of your company or the DNA you are hoping to find. The DNA is normally the soul of the company and or the mission of the business. If you are a missional company who values impacting people then the potential new hire must carry the same value and vision.


Second, detail the Skeletal structure of the organization. If you are a non-profit then there is a different style of work than a for-profit company. What are your work hours, how does work get done, what is the social norm of the culture, etc.? If you are a fast paced sales organization then you need to ensure the new hire has history working in this environment.


Third, understand the Skin of the business. This is not about race, but rather the type of person that fits well.

For instance, if you are a company that works outdoors or handling goods then make sure the new hire is not a “suit” who doesn’t want to get their hands dirty. They must look the part as well as be able to work in it.

Do We Have it Backwards?

Most of my past mis-hires have come with the Skeletal system.

The people I hired had the DNA and some had the Skin, but they were not used to working in the environment and or style we had.

That was my fault.

I saw the missional aspect of their DNA, but didn’t test the skeletal structure enough.

Now, what about your key hires? Are you being thorough enough in your strategic hiring? If you want to think of this another way, think about the divorce rate. Why is it so high?

My view is that most men and women start backwards.

They start with the Skin – “Wow, she is good looking”.

They then move to the Skeleton – “And, she is going to be a lawyer.”

Once they are married with kids they dig into the DNA – “You mean you don’t believe in God?” That is when the rough patches come and people claim “Irreconcilable Differences.”

To me this is an illustration of the lack of due diligence. If they had started with the DNA there might be a big difference.

The same is true with resumes. “Wow, they look impressive and look at who they have worked for?”

DNA is rarely interviewed.

DNA, Skeleton, Skin.

Try it on your next hire and watch what it does to the process.

Priorities for Navigating Change

Change can be overwhelming, even for the most change inclined among us. In the midst of turbulent change, we can experience confusion, doubt, and fear alongside the thrilling hope of what the future may bring. Our capacity gets stretched and we step carefully ensuring that we are considering all perspectives, people, and possibilities for the most effective way forward.

What are your priorities when navigating change?

Visionary leadership and skilled management are essential for sure. A knowledge of organizational culture and the readiness of people to engage the process are also vital. Too often people assume everyone is ready to engage.

Clarity and Conversations are my top two priorities when navigating change.


Am I keeping the main thing, the main thing?

One change typically impacts a number of other areas and people within an organization. It is easy to get ADD when seeking to influence one area. Sometimes it is necessary to address tangential areas, but many times the priority is to stay focused. Go back to the drawing board and ask; What was the original goal? Is the change process we are initiating actually addressing that role or did we get sidetracked? Are we headed into unnecessary areas?


Am I verbally moving things forward toward closure and traction?

For intentional change to take place, conversations are of the utmost importance. Change starts with someone initiating a conversation to frame the issues and boundaries of what needs to take shape. Conversations then continue toward aligning people for the greatest effectiveness. An understanding of what unique voice each person you are getting input from helps you discern and filter as you lead the charge. We love serving leaders to understand the different voices that exist in an organization so that you can know your team to lead your team with even greater results.

Hope is an anchor for your heart in the midst of whatever change you are experiencing, so we speak hope to you today.

What are your priorities when navigating change?

Two Tools Every Leader Needs

Much of what we spend our time on in the Executive Core can be boiled down to two words: support & challenge.

What makes an effective leader?

We like to say that a good leader, or a “leader worth following”, is someone who understands how to accurately use support and challenge with those he or she leads. In essence, they use support and challenge to fight for the highest possible good in those around them.

As simple of a concept as this may be, the vast majority of leaders struggle with implementing it on a daily basis, and for good reason.

It’s hard.

In the heat of battle, time flies by, deadlines draw nearer, and the weight of reality sinks in faster than we’d like it to. I would venture to say that most leaders spend the majority of their time putting out the fires of today (more likely the fires of yesterday).

When the pressure of hitting goals is on, the DNA of workplace culture will show itself in all of its glory (or lack thereof).

Two Tools

At GiANT, we use visual tools and concepts to help leadership principles become more sticky and useful in the field. Today, I want to give you an illustration to help you with support and challenge and what it might look like to use each of them.

1. Support: Shield

When you think of supporting someone, I want you to think of a shield. As a leader you called to come to aid of your people and serve them. The use of support can look different depending on the situation, but at the core, support is used to encourage and protect for the sake of growth.

Oftentimes leaders who favor support over challenge will create a culture that feeds on verbal reinforcement and encouragement but loathes any sort of reprimand or conflict. Being an encouraging leader is a great thing, but if your leadership is weighted disproportionately in favor of support, you are not building a culture of growth, but rather one of entitlement and insecurity.

That’s why it’s important to balance out the amount of support offered with a healthy dose of it’s side-kick, challenge.

2. Challenge: Sword

Every leader needs a shield, and every leader needs a sword. Swords, just like shields, are necessary for building a culture of growth. As a leader, you are called to challenge those around you to strive for higher goals, become more competent, and to get stronger. Effective leaders use challenge to hold their teams accountable to a certain standard of excellence.

Where leaders typically become derailed is when the majority of their leadership is full of challenge with little to no support. The mindset here is that “My team needs to be pushed hard and I am not their mother. Growth only happens when you put people in tough situations, and that’s what I’m doing.” I get this, but it’s not the whole story.

Leaders who challenge and forget to support aren’t actually building a healthy culture of growth, but rather one of fear.

Challenge is good, but only when accompanied by a healthy amount of support.

3 Questions

  1. Which do you tend to lead with, support or challenge?
  2. What would it look for you to begin using both in a healthy manner?
  3. How can you bring this language to your team to help them to grow in their leadership?

3 Reasons To Consider Participating in Exec Core

When you physically work on your Core, you strengthen your entire body. Strong, healthy muscles at the center serve your entire being. The same is true for your leadership muscles at the Core.

We have been working for over 12 years to build something for leaders that help them grow at the highest levels while benefitting their teams and organizations. It is called the Executive Core and our next cohort launches June 23 in Atlanta, GA. We meet 4 times per year (once per quarter), then twice per month via video conference with an additional 1:1 meeting if desired per month. We gather in groups of 8 and we hope to have 4 to 6 groups at the June start.

There are 3 reasons you should consider joining.

1. If you are willing you could grow deeper as a leader than you have ever grown to date

At the Exec Core we focus deeply on Knowing Yourself to Lead Yourself. We have designed a process for you to look at yourself in a mirror to see what it is like to be on the other side of you. The growth program is designed to affect you at work, home, and in your very view of yourself.

2. You will learn tools, language and processes that make you more effective for the rest of your life

We have created memorable tools, comprehensive leadership language and unbelievably practical processes that will affect every culture you are in and benefit those you lead.

3. You will learn how to multiply people and organizations to accelerate health on all those around you

The exec core doesn’t mess around with cheesy leadership programs. We have built an apprenticeship process that raises the capacity of the people by connecting to 90% of an organization. Simply put, we have created a way for leaders to learn how to multiply influence not just add more books to their shelf.

“But I am not an Executive,” you might say. The Exec Core is for people leading people or divisions or organizations. We have entrepreneurs, government leaders, church leaders, some corporate execs, but mostly people who are humble and hungry and willing to grow at levels never before.

Would you be willing to take a look at it? Go to and see what others are saying about it. If it isn’t for you then you may know someone that wants to go to the next level with something that truly works. Pass it on to those you know.

Our mission is to help leaders become leaders worth following while leading companies everyone wants to work for. It is a noble mission as we are simply tired of leaders being for themselves rather than for others.

Will you help us?

If you or someone you know may be interested, simply reply to this email or send an email to

Think Bigger, Yet Get Better

For me, this is a season of big thinking.

Bold thinking.

Thinking that takes our organization places that we have never before dreamed.

Truly, I am thinking bigger than I ever have before about our company, our reach, our impact and our growth.

This is the time for offense.

I would rather die trying to grow and influence then die defending something in a defensive posture.

So how do you get bigger? How do you grow in a time like this? How do you think big when everyone around you has their head in the sand?

In the words of Truett Cathy, “You get bigger by becoming better.”

Or in other words to get Big, get Better.

Now, how can you get better?

You can think better and you can make your products or services better. This is the time to work on getter better. Practice, think, innovate. I know you may not have enough money to do all of that, but you can certainly start with a few.

It starts with you.

Can you, as a leader, get better? Chances are, yes you can. Can your team get better? Your processes? How about your website or marketing materials?

You don’t always have to spend money in order to get better, either. You can improve little things. It starts with your mindset.

If you want to get bigger, you must get better.

That is as simple and powerful as it gets.

Why We Do What We Do

Today I’m at the airport on an extended layover writing a few posts for our blog.

This one wasn’t intended, but as I am in proximity to an executive catching up on their phone calls I simply can’t help it.

What exactly was said about so and so at the meeting? What did they say about my three team leads?

Without exaggeration, I estimate that 50-60% of the two conversations that happened within one foot of me were dealing with the aftermath of relational conflict not handled well, low emotional intelligence, and what we would call a dominating leader reaping havoc in this organization. This executive described the yelling, the accusing, and the insensitivity in communication that one of the team leads was operating with.

I sit here and wonder: what if the culture of this organization understood and practiced both high support and high challenge in a way that was calibrated to the needs of individuals? What could be done with the other 50% of the time that was invested in the aftermath of leaders with an apparently low EQ and understanding of how to fight for the highest possible good in the life of those around them.

Dominators – through high challenge and low support – create a culture of fear and manipulation. They have low regard for attending to the needs of others because they are blind to their own self-preservation.

In reality they are not for others they are for themselves. They seem secure, but they are insecure. They project their own competence often because inside they don’t want others to know that somewhere inside there exists a number of knowledge, skill, and character gaps. I agree with the Harvard Business Review article “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” (worth a read) when they say it’s time to end the myth of the complete leader; the flawless ones who have it all figured out when in reality we are all incomplete.

We all know you are incomplete and it’s a good thing, that’s why we need different voices on the team.

This is why we do what we do.

We want you in your sweet spot with a high self-awareness and appreciation of differences in others. We want your organization having the right kind of relational conversations.

It’s Your Question to Answer

Harvard educated philosopher Jacob Needleman made the following incisive observation:

We start with the paradox that there have been countless, ingenious technological innovations for the last 200 years designed to save us time. Somehow the result is that nobody has anytime left. That’s why I call time the new poverty. We are a time poor society. We have lots of things, maybe lots of money, but lots of time? No.

Please Listen

We genuinely care about you and your wellbeing. If you are frenzied, working from sun up to sun down, and neglecting your most important relationships, you need to change. We could seriously start a Time Alcoholics Anonymous. Some people have a visceral reaction to the idea of slowing down the rpm’s of their heart and mind It’s not possible; too many deliverables, too much at stake.

We know it can be different.

The best research says that when leaders and organizations hold the two values of competing for new market space alongside investment in human capital so teams work together in a healthy way organizational effectiveness is higher and value is created.

We apprentice leaders to reset the tempo of their lives to be smooth, rhythmic, and repeatable. We lead you to think through how managing your priorities will allow you to experience the gift of time as it is intended. We are just about ready to launch our next Executive Core process (click to learn more) and would love to help you and learn from you.

Can it be different?

We say yes. Only you can answer that question and how you answer may have big implications as you hit the half way mark in 2014.

What’s Next? 3 Questions for Leaders Today

In my pursuit to grow and raise up Leaders Worth Following, something simply outstanding occurs with a select number of people in each group.

Upon completion of a workshop/program, I always have a few team members approach me and ask “What’s Next?”. It’s at this point, I know that these individuals are what GiANT calls “Humble, Hungry, and Smart.” They are taking personal responsibility for their own leadership journey by being eager to grow and develop themselves. They are not relying on their leadership team to assign them a class or give them a book to read. They are seeking out opportunities to grow and learn more about themselves so they can excel at leading others in the future.

These team members have potential for growth and will increase your company’s reach and impact on others.

Often, simply the act of delegating a task to an individual who is “Humble, Hungry, and Smart” is all it takes to ignite leadership development. Invest in these people and you’ll find not only will they grow, you and your organization will grow as well.

My Questions for Leaders Today:

  1. Is your awareness level turned up?
  2. Are you watching and listening for these “Hungry, Humble, and Smart” people in your organization?
  3. Is your limited coaching time focused on these individuals?

Seek More Than Advice

Seek more than advice.

I once needed advice on a new business that I had started. At the time, I thought I was only looking for a sounding board. I didn’t really want to admit that I could use some help. Nevertheless, I asked someone I trusted who had the character, competence, and chemistry to give me one hour over a cup of coffee. My expectation was for him to listen to my plan and tell me what to do and what not to do.

That was it!

I am very lucky he had different expectations. Our one hour meeting turned into a year of hour-long meetings every couple weeks. He helped me understand the unconscious tendencies that impeded my leadership. Here are three examples:

  • If I’m not careful, my leadership style runs the risk of creating a culture of entitlement. Taking care of people is natural to me, but I have to work to make sure I also bring the appropriate degree of challenge to others around me.
  • I have a tendency to ignore quirks in others that annoy me. Ignoring these behaviors means they tend to repeat themselves until I become contentious. This compromises the development in others and risks relationship.
  • I could not stand (ok still can’t stand) the guardian voice that picks apart my ideas. However, that is the exact voice that builds the systems and structure to see a plan to completion.

The point is, I had many unconscious tendencies that impeded my growth. By the way, we all do. I’m just lucky that the voice I found went deeper than strategy and didn’t care if it hurt my pride.

Everyone needs a guide. Don’t look for someone who validates you. Look for someone who challenges you. Discuss more than just business details. Trash your pride and admit your weakness.

Ask him or her what it’s like to be on the other side of you. This is the question all of our leaders in the Executive CORE are forced to ask early on because until you know the answer, you will not know where to start growing as a leader.

Leadership and Influence…It is All About Relationships

True influence is the everyday commerce of leadership.

Once you get out of the transactional loop, you are free to enjoy the relationships of life that come with influence. Relationships then become the norm, not the exception.

Is there such a thing as a perfect relationship? “No,” you may argue, “nothing can be perfect.” While I agree with you, I will tell you that I believe it is possible to form strong bonds even in a world of greed, power, and corruption. These powerful relationships exist in business and in communities. How does this occur?

Once you free yourself by letting go of your own wants and needs and focusing on serving others, your vantage point changes. You will be free to serve and give without fear of losing. You will see other people’s needs as joyful opportunities for service. It is possible to have empowering relationships in all aspects of life.

Influence Model

The influence model is a tool that can be used to help leaders move from mediocrity to a life of lasting impact. The model is built, established, and run on trust.

Influence requires commitment. This is precisely why most people do not have much impact: it costs something. In fact, every influential person in my life has sacrificed either time, energy, or effort to influence me.

Leaders do not fully control their influence. Yet living a life of impact means that influence is possible all of the time.


Have you heard about the Executive CORE yet? The next group begins this June and I would love for you to consider joining us for a year of immense growth for you, your family and your organization. You can learn more by visiting the Executive CORE website. Thank you!