“Strong Leadership and Making People Safe First is an Imperative—Business Follows”

Today more than ever those leading us through crisis must have strong empathy and compassion first—business at-hand comes second. The human side of life must be addressed first to lead us out of crisis. This begins by addressing the most foundational human needs to survive. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs defines the psychological motivational theory addressing survival—beginning with food, water, and safety—these must be achieved before other needs can be met (Maslow, 1943).

Now is the time every employer and their people need to prepare for when we can all return to work in the new norm—when it is safe for everyone to return.

Building a “scalable” business model just took on a totally new meaning and imperative. This is an opportune time to not only rethink the future of your organization (new business strategy) but to rethink the competencies and talent needed to bring your new strategy to life in a much more agile and dynamic way than ever before.

“Just as the world will never be the same after this COVID-19 pandemic,

neither will nor should your organization.”

“As long as we have learned from our experiences, apply empathy and compassion, and ensure the safety of others first—we will continue to make progress.”


Rapid Agility—How rapidly organizations and people are able to move from a “brick and mortar organization” to a “virtual organization” is paramount to maintain stability in current COVID-19 crisis and in future uncertain times including when the next pandemic or catastrophe takes place—it is not a matter of “if” it is a matter of “when”.

Inspirational Leadership Matters—The faster an organization’s leadership and its employees can act to keep the momentum and gain stability during and after crisis—the more likely such organization will achieve a sustainable future. It all begins with having the right leadership and the right people in the right seats then a progressive future is possible. Now is the time to be thinking about whether you have the right leadership and people in the right seats moving into your “new norms”. Please be certain—this is not saying layoffs—it is saying restructuring so that you are leveraging your current bench strength and adding new leadership and talent strengths where you are weak or missing what is needed.

Gifford Thompson posits “Inspiration and leadership are inseparable. If you cannot inspire your team to achieve greatness, if you cannot inspire a group of people to follow your vision, if you cannot inspire people by your words and actions; you’re not a leader. You are an average manager at best. Inspirational leaders don’t accept ‘the way life is,’ and they are often uncomfortable if they are not living their purpose, and sharing it with the world. We were all born with unique gifts to share, but we are often thrown off track by taking a job that is safe, and has great benefits but isn’t fulfilling—we may be good at it, we may be the best at it, but it does not bring out the greatness trapped inside of us begging to come out (Thompson, 2020).”

Brandy Schade, Strengthology Leadership Consultant, shared with me during a recent conversation we were having on what competencies great managers possess. Brandy posited “the key traits to look for in a person when promoting or hiring someone into a leadership role are they:

• Motivate every single employee to act and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.

• Have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.

• Create a culture of clear accountability.

• Build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency; and

• Make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

All of these 5 critical traits are also competencies found within someone who has strong emotional intelligence. There is a plethora of studies that show authentic and most meaningful leaders must have strong emotional intelligence.

Brandy also shared with me a Gallop article written by Randall Beck and Jim Harter and published in the Gallop Workplace Business Journal that went into details about these five traits and when organizations measure these traits when hiring their managers, they were able to double the rate of engaged employees, and achieve on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition (Beck and Harter, ND).

“Companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time,

Gallup finds”

Motivating the Troops—What does the military have that the majority of organizations don’t have? Leaders at all levels motivating the people around them. A core leadership competency absolutely a must is the ability to quickly build rapport and trust with direct reports and all employees. This competency also happens to be a core competency of strong emotional intelligence. William Treseder is a thought leader when it comes to leadership and how to motivate others wrote a compelling article entitled “Military Secrets for Motivating Employees” that quickly points out the missing link and reasons why the military is so amazingly great at motivating their troops and what organizations can learn from the military’s success taking people from all over the world with absolutely nothing in common and—depending on the service—has between 6 and 13 weeks to mold them into a functional unit that is capable of executing complex tasks with relative precision.

Treseder posits “The magnitude of this task is difficult to grasp. It’s hard enough to get one teenaged male to do something (ask any parent), let alone dozens of them. Crammed together. Sleep-deprived. With weapons… On top of that, these young men and women are sweating or freezing for less than minimum wage. The bottom line, the Army, Navy, and Air Forces are good at motivating people because they have to be because military life is hard and you can’t pay people much. You may ask them to die, and you have to know they’ll accomplish the mission anyway.”

A common thread can be found amongst the best leaders—whether Spartan hoplite, a Japanese samurai, a Turkish Ghazi, or an American soldier—the ability to have empathy and an understanding of human nature. Napoleon demonstrated unparalleled insight into human nature when explaining the medal to his critics on how soldiers need glory, distinctions, and rewards. Treseder concurred “Things should be earned, never given. (Treseder, 2014).”

Team Engagement & Productivity—Brandy Schade, Strengthology Leadership Consultant, People who have fun and do what they do best on a daily basis are 6x as likely to be engaged. Teams that focus on strengths every day are 12.5% more productive. High levels of employee engagement increase profitability and productivity by approximately 20%.

Paul Zak wrote about “The Neuroscience of Trust”—and found that “building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance. (Zak, 2017).

Shifting Mindset—It is not just about what an organization wants and needs to survive vs. become extinct—it is also important to address what leadership and employees need to thrive. A relevant survey by the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (SEVS) used to evaluate the extent to which the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) employees are motivated. Here are a few of what was most important:

• Importance of their jobs and connection to their organization’s mission

• Understanding their jobs and performance feedback

• Encouragement of individual development and the importance of a healthy work-life balance

• Feeling empowered, appreciated, paid fairly, and having opportunities for growth

(Saacks, 2016).

Assessing Your Bench Strength During COVID-19 and Beyond—Virtual recruitment and virtual hiring now should be your “go-to” resources as you take a critical view of your current leadership and people and identify the gaps in strengths necessary to drive the future of your organization in the new norms.

Hiring Virtually—Leonel DeLeon, an expert in retain executive search placements, wrote an article recently entitled “Cost of Getting ‘Hiring Wrong’” and as I was reading it, I found the timeliness of his article to be even more profound because of what we are now experiencing and the entire world is dealing with during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Leonel further posits a few of the advantages of embracing virtual hiring practices, I have found are:

• Access to a larger pipeline of new talent—Global Reach with Local Touch

• Attracting a robust pipeline of more highly-qualified candidates—Breadth and Depth of Reach

• Leveraging technology, reducing time to hire, and making consistently good decisions with on-demand and live video interviews—Means Deploying Talent Much Faster Within Just A Few Days Vs. Weeks or Months.

• Enabling rapid screening of candidates and helps narrow the funnel to assess the most qualified, “best fit” candidates for each position—Finding Best Fit Faster

• Reduces the cost of hiring and increases better decision making—Mitigating the Risk of Hiring the Wrong People

According to a recent Gallup study “Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year and having too many of them can bring down a company. The only defense against this problem is a good offense because when companies get these decisions wrong, nothing fixes it. Businesses that get it right, however, and hire managers based on talent will thrive and gain a significant competitive advantage (Beck and Harter, ND).

Leonel further shared in his article a recent survey from The Conference Board who have been conducting Executive surveys since 1999 shows that the world's top chief executives view the following as their Top 3 concerns in 2020:

• #1 concern is the risk of a recession (we are in a bad recession right now)

• #2 attracting and retaining talent (COVID-19 has caused organizations to layoff and freeze up combined with complete chaos especially when it comes to making hiring decisions), and lastly

• #3 competition and staying ahead of the curve while remaining relevant to their customers and employees (companies’ worst nightmare just became real)

Executives in 2020 also feel unsettled by trade uncertainty, political instability, and more intense competition from disruptive technologies (multiply this fear tenfold today as the pandemic has brought the US economy to its knees).

JPMORGAN CHASE CEO, Jamie Dimon, says he expects "a bad recession" and financial stress "similar to the global financial crisis" in the months ahead as the U.S. economy reels from the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown measures being adopted to contain it (U.S. News & World Report, 04/06/20).

Leonel DeLeon, is the Managing Partner of Strong Tower Partners, a retain executive search, talent advisory and executive coaching firm specialized in identifying, attracting and coaching exceptional leaders to maximize organizational talent selection and talent management competencies and processes.

In conclusion, now is the time every employer and their people need to prepare for how their business will be conducted in order to thrive vs. become extinct right now and into the future as we all return to work in the new norm. The reality is organizations must build “scalable” business models and scalable hiring practices while leveraging this unprecedented time in global and U.S. history by embracing it as an opportune time to not only rethink the future of your organization (new business strategy) but to rethink the competencies and talent needed to bring your new strategy to life in a much more agile and dynamic way than ever before.

“Just as the world will never be the same after this COVID-19 pandemic,

neither will nor should your organization.”


Learn More



Does Your Resume Float Their Boat?

Posted on May 11, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Does Your Resume "Float Their Boat?"

In today's rapidly changing and highly competitive business environments, job seekers are often lost at sea when it comes to knowing how to best navigate the dark waters of career transition and keep your resume from sinking to the bottom of someone's stake. That's if you are lucky enough to have it first float to the top through the shark infested black holes of the Internet and the vast stingrays of applicant tracking systems. Did you know? The average time spent by a hiring manager or recruiter is less than 7 seconds? This means you must "capture them at hello", "first sight" intrigue them enough that they can't help but want to know more about you and read on.

Did you know? When writing your resume for a specific job application online takes discipline, focus and expertise to not only capture "keywords" but which keywords? It takes knowing "how" to write in a way that visually catches the "eye" of the applicant tracking system (ATS) and then the human reading your resume for the first time—two different sets of eyes and both need to be done in just the right way to float your resume to the top.

Did you know? Writing your resume today is both a science and an art? No longer are the days of just throwing together a chronological list of where you worked and what you did. Today, it is oh so much different and can be hard to know just what to do without help from an expert. Everyone out there seems to have an opinion on what they believe is the best way to write your resume.

So, what do you do to have the greatest chance of making it above sea level? First, be the captain of your ship. In other words, embrace this time in your life with discipline, focus and a genuine desire to find what works best for you. You will need patience, commitment, and perseverance at times.

However, the good news is once you learn how to do it right, each time it will become easier and faster for you to apply to "best-fit jobs" and your own eyes will quickly pick up the keywords in a job description that you also possess in your treasure chest of skills, competencies, and experiences.

Okay, so how do I write my resume effectively so that I not only get recognized but I intrigue them enough to get an interview?

Great questions! I wanted to make sure that what I share with you is not only my advice that has been honed for over a decade of critiquing and rewriting thousands of resumes but it also takes into consideration what the guru's of resume writing believe are "best practice" today. The following are the most common themes experts are saying. "

The most important action a job seeker needs to take RE: their resume is to not only list their keywords on their resume, but to repeat them. This is called "search engine optimization" in the business world and it's how companies get their websites to appear at the top of a Google search. It's the same way resumes appear at the top of a list in Applicant Tracking Systems." Abby Kohut

"Two things that jump to mind for ATS: -current keywords directly related to the target function, minimizing or eliminating language around work style or interpersonal skills. While these will be important to a candidate's final selection, on a resume "team-player" or "detail-oriented" are not as impactful and take up valuable resume real estate space. Regarding format: A clean format that is easy to read will get through an ATS. No tables, pictures, or. pdfs. For real people reading resumes, in addition to the above comments, a resume should have a clear focus on supportive experiences and accomplishments. The ultimately distinguished preference is having an internal contact walk your resume to the reader. Employee referrals have such a high retention rate (last I read was 90%) many resume readers welcome a referral to help with the first stages of the selection process. (I know I do!)" Alyson Frederico

"A couple of my thoughts on resumes: 1) Brand yourself on your resume. Tell people "what you do" in your headline under your contact info, and then share some of those points in your summary. Very important to "customize" the Summary section of your resume, to show the fit to the job being sought. 2) Include relevant Key Words in your resume. Review the skills and experience being sought, and then make sure you use the right words to show you are a "match" for what they are seeking. Don't make the reader guess, and don't mislead your expertise either. 3) After developing a solid resume, brand yourself on LinkedIn. Be consistent, so that you present the best of "you" on LinkedIn that is consistently shared in your resume. The Summary section on LinkedIn provides a larger platform to share more information and some stories and accomplishments that will make you more memorable too!" Gayle Bridgeman

"Avoid Common Resume Buzzwords—While you review your resume for keywords, keep an eye out for overused buzzwords as well. Many job candidates include vague, generic terms that companies have learned to ignore—and programmed their ATSs to ignore. Given the context engines used by ATS, there are certain words that should be avoided: "can work independently," "detail-oriented," "dynamic," "problem-solver," and a number of variations on "success"—including "succeeded," "successful," and "successfully." It's best to be straightforward. Using job-specific, skill-specific keywords and avoiding filler terms is the best way to make sure that your entry reflects your fit with the available position. Candidates can certainly get lost in the resume abyss of the applicant tracking system. Resumes that get too creative with their wording can easily confuse ATS software to the point where it rejects the applicant." Dirk Spencer, Corporate Recruiter

"In my humble opinion, jobseekers need to use the language of the job posting when placing the experiences they have (that are a match to what the company is looking for). Jobseekers absolutely need to address the needs shown in the job posting, rather than just applying with a resume that shows wonderful experiences but not related to the job posting needs. I see many resumes when I post positions but very few (I hate to say) have been customized to show me the relevant experience I am looking for. Foster Williams

Feel free to reach out to anyone of the experts mentioned in this blog and join their LinkedIn!

Categories: Blogger/Author: Jane Ryan, Careers

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