Leadership: Hiring the Right Mindset & Skillset
Jim Egerton Wednesday, February 28, 2018
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As an executive in the technology space, you’re already aware of the importance of hiring the best and brightest people you can find. Your new hires need to bring with them the right mindset and skill set to be productive. They need to think strategically, make quality decisions, solve problems, and play for the team.
Even at a company like Google, there are world-class chess masters on the payroll. So why have these titled chess players traded in the thrill of pushing pawns and forking pieces to become CEOs and software engineers? In fact techies who played chess during their college and high schools days are now transferring those game-based chess thinking skills into the world of technology and coming up big. That’s because your chess playing employees excel at:
Regardless of when they started and how far up the chess playing ladder they ascended, business people who play chess develop some valuable skills. They generate ideas that win or lose the game. Should I attack my opponent’s queen, build a fortress for my king, or sacrifice the exchange to stabilize the position? Technology companies need to generate lots of ideas before they find the one that changes everything. Your chess opponent can be an unforgiving boss who pounces on your moves with real-time feedback. You don’t have to wait long to put your ideas to a test in a game of chess.
Chess players are creative in every sense of the word. Anyone who has played chess has been in a situation they were not expecting, had to figure out their best moves and carry on. Why do you think getting out of an escape room is so popular? You have to be creative in order to be up to the challenge. Using our game-based teaching methods will result in your leadership skills managing a successful team. It’s lonely at the top of an organization, but being in charge of a 16-piece workforce is a familiar situation to creative chess players.
Visualizing the Future
Successful business people have the ability to visualize the future to their advantage. Chess players are very good at visualizing the future when analyzing candidate moves. In chess we call it calculating. It’s really carrying a series of mental images in your mind and based on what you “see” making a decision on what to do.
Business people who can see the future and take advantage of a trend are the ones who come out ahead. Why is there such a race to have an electric driverless car in every garage? Maybe it’s the future of transportation? Being able to see one move ahead of the competition or being able to see a combination of tactical moves available in the marketplace is a proven path to business success. With chess, winning combinations are a product of “seeing the future” right at the board.
Producing Quality Work Under Pressure
This picture shows over 1,400 chess players working hard during their games in a national tournament. When done, they use technology called engines and mega-databases of chess games to learn from their mistakes. Where did their decision-making go wrong? Was there an overlooked tactic in the position? Did time trouble rear its ugly head and take good moves with it?
Every player in the picture was responsible for their actions, knowing they had to live with the consequences of their moves. Producing game-winning results under the trying conditions of a chess match is like taking an exam in front of the whole world. Even the coach with the binoculars is visibly looking for proof of your ability.
Every chess game is an opportunity to practice and improve leadership skills tech companies need to sustain success. As we have discussed in previous issues of FUNNEL magazine on Leadership topics, startup companies need visionaries who can transform an idea into a successful business. It’s transformational leadership and is the basis of the opening of a chess game. The CEO/leader needs a vision of where and how every piece should be meaningfully deployed which helps the team get an advantage.
Eventually, every chess game becomes unique. It’s a situation that has never occurred before and you are on your own. To practice your situational leadership skills; put yourself in situations you have never been in and see how it goes. Finally every business has an exit strategy and for techies it’s most likely being acquired by a larger company and reaping all the stock option rewards. It is results-based leadership of seeing the final moves and reasoning backward on how to get there.
Chess gives business leaders a practice facility for different leadership styles through the opening, middle and endgame phases of their company. Being able to switch from one style to another is the skill of an accomplished leader.
Remarkable Problem Solvers
Business people and chess players are constantly solving problems. Some of the problems they solve are predictable like dealing with the fallout from creating millions of phony credit cards for customers. But many problems are not predictable, like landing an airplane on the Hudson River due to engine failure. Chess players have a keen sense of problem solving because the situations they need to address haven’t been created by their opponents yet. After each move they incorporate and evaluate the slightest change in the position and how it affects the situation. Is there a threat in the position that needs to be evaluated?
Chess being a game of almost infinite possibilities and opportunities means you have to take charge of all the functional areas of your business. Everyone reports to you and everything is your responsibility. In business and chess victory is achieved through your employees.
Building a More Competitive Business
Bringing the right talent into your company starts with making sure they have the right mindset and skill set to benefit the operation. Recently in Chicago a startup company terminated 51 employees with the explanation they needed to have the right people in the right positions going forward. They also announced they are still hiring. The point, bring in the right people in the first place and you build your tech company on a solid foundation.
Next Issue: Leadership – Good Decision-Making Drives Better Bottom Line Results