The British Heart Foundation (BHF) asked 2,000 executives what they looked for in candidates when recruiting.
More than half said they were more likely to employ someone who had done charity work. This was a higher proportion than were impressed by sporting achievements or people being physically fit.
The rationale behind companies liking charity workers was simple. The skills they learned doing voluntary work brought in an extra £36,000 to the companies. They also thought volunteers were more caring, reliable and driven.
And those members of staff who had done voluntary work earned about £1,000 a year more.
Some volunteers said it also made them more attractive to the opposite sex and helped them get dates.
The BHF said “Volunteers are absolutely essential to the success of the charity and play an integral part in fighting coronary get disease. We couldn’t continue our life-saving work without them”
Psychologists at Duke University, North Carolina, investigated the downside of being competent at your job and guess what? You probably won’t be thanked for it and will probably be given more to do as a result.
Lazy workers know how to mess up the simplest jobs so they don’t get asked again or to complain about their workload. On the other hand reliable workers – those who scored high on self-control, a trait similar to the Big 5 trait of conscientiousness which correlates highly with reliability – get work dumped on them by their colleagues and maybe even worse it happens when they get home too.
In general they found that “people not only have higher expectations of these (reliable) people but tend to assign them more work”. The researchers felt that such people deserved better recognition and more rewards. I can’t disagree with that.
In the Sunday Times business section this weekend Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners and the Centre for Entrepreneurs, set out his list of the most important characteristics that a managing director should possess.
In brief these were:
The ability to motivate. The boss who can enthuse a workforce will generally do better than one who rules by fear.
Domain Knowledge. They must have sufficient technical understanding to gain the respect of their team.
The ability to listen. The best bosses don’t dominate debates but encourage feedback and leave their doors open. They listen to the shop floor by going there in person.
Decisiveness. Ultimately companies cannot function as pure democracies and someone has to make decisions rather than procrastinate. Employees need a sense of direction.
Financial literacy. Must be able to interpret financial statements and analyse accouts.
A sense of humour. Life is too short not to enjoy going to work .
Reliability in a crisis. Someone who doesn’t panic in the face of adversity and gets down to work in a diligent and professional way without histrionics.
Frugality. Having a thrifty approach to business. Extravagant CEOs set a bad example especially if they live beyond their means. A lean operation is the only way.
Delegation. The only way for start-ups to become large companies is for the proprietor/managers to learn to identify, promote, trust, and empower talent.
Adaptability. Modern companies need to be flexible and intelligent leaders thrive on change and are constantly learning.
Bravery. Outstanding leaders need the courage to make unpopular decisions. Those who fail to speak out on controversial issues and follow the consensus are followers not leaders.
That’s Luke Johnsons’ list and I can’t say I disagree with any of them. An interesting mixture of personality traits e.g. adaptability (being open to experience) and learned skills e.g. financial knowledge.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who meets all those criteria however! And when it comes to frugality it’s hard to say it abounds. When the average pay at the top of organisations is 130 times pay at the bottom and CEOs get rewarded for failure e.g. the Barclays CEO walking away with £28 million it’s hard to believe it exists at the very top of organisations.
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These traits, which help their partners to be advance their careers are: conscientiousness, reliability, and diligence.
These are the traits commonly found in successful executives with conscientiousness linked to success in life generally i.e. you do what you say you’ll do.
The study examined 5,000 married couples aged between 19 and 80 years of age and tracked them over 5 years to see how well they did at work. They also asked them to describe their partners.
Those who progressed the most in their chosen occupation had a spouse who scored high in conscientiousness, regardless of sex.
The author of the study, Joshua Jackson, talking about the results said “ It is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too”.
He said it’s not just about your spouse encouraging you to ask for a pay rise or promotion but the influence of your spouse’s daily behaviour which influences you over time.
Conscientiousness can mean a spouse sharing the domestic chores or emulating the other person’s personality traits making them reliable and diligent employees.
This is where HR has been getting it wrong! Instead of using personality questionnaires to assess the applicant they should be inviting the applicants’ spouses in for assessment as well. Of course that doesn’t help if the applicant doesn’t have one – unless they borrow one for the occasion from a successful friend.