If I can be honest for a moment, I think one reason employers find it so hard to hire people today is character. The culture, and in some cases the law, dictate to us that a person’s character and history of behavior shouldn’t be considered.
Well as Val Kilmer said in the movie Tombstone, “I beg to differ, sir.”
Honestly, is there anything more important than a person’s character? My friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin made a great observation about this. “Unless you’re applying to become a swimsuit model, employers care way more about what’s in your soul than your body.”
Isn’t that the truth? That’s ALL we care about in our mastermind groups online. Physical fitness is important, obviously, but we care way more about someone’s authenticity, vulnerability and transparency. I’ll be honest, however, and say that it’s sometimes difficult to spot the people who truly believe in those things.
Chop Kick Panda
Have you ever noticed famous Walt Disney animated movies always have “knock-off” versions? People try to copy the storyline, changing the titles and names. I guess this works on little kids, because the industry’s been doing it for decades. But as adults, we can easily tell the difference.
The reason I mention this is it’s very easy to get “knock-off” people in your organization. Disney doesn’t only face this problem with the movies they make. Former Disney CEO Robert Iger, in his book “The Ride of a Lifetime,” confessed to choosing the wrong people for leadership from time to time.
After Disney acquired Marvel Studios in 2015, Iger started off on rocky footing. Tensions developed between Disney’s oversight and Marvel’s creative leader, Kevin Feige. At the same time, Iger was slowly recovering from the decision to choose Rich Ross to lead Disney Studios. Iger confessed to having thought of Ross as the right person to lead … and he was wrong.
As I looked at the studio, very little was going right, and it was clear that my instinct wasn’t going to work out. Rather than putting more effort into making it work, or becoming defensive about having done it, I needed to contain the damage, learn from missteps, and move on, quickly.
I like this decision-making process. Sometimes, I think we can agree, we make decisions based on how we feel in a given moment. I don’t know that Iger had a mastermind group or business coaches he could have relied on for help making decisions. But he was level-headed enough to admit he’d made his decision, based partially on his emotional state at the time.
Mistakes Should Not Be Repeated
Iger eventually found the “real thing” in choosing the next head of Disney Studios, but not before he went through the process of firing Rich Ross. After owning his mistakes, he would choose his next studio head based on up-front, frank conversations about the freedoms and limitations of the role. He also chose not to make the decision quickly, or on his own, the way he’d done previously.
In firing Ross, Iger laid down a good list of principles he follows when it becomes his responsibility to cut ties with a senior leader:
- It must be done in-person, with eye contact
- You can’t use anyone else as an excuse; they need to know it comes from you
- The decision must be about how the person did their job, not the person themselves
- You can’t make small talk or chit chat
- You should be direct about the issue, explaining why it’s not working and why you don’t believe it’s going to change
- Avoid euphemistic corporate language; the conversation is painful, but it doesn’t need to be dishonest or sugar-coated
There will be times you’ll have to do this, once your business grows and you have to hire people. As a Christ follower, I would encourage you to consider Iger’s list, and also the help of an online mastermind group for when you do it. No matter how justified a firing might be, it’s important you hold on to your character and integrity.
Beyond the Flames
If you can keep your head up and see beyond firing someone, your eyes will eventually settle on this - there’s someone out there, much more qualified or destined for that position. In Robert Iger’s case, that person was Alan Horn, who’d recently lost his position as COO and president of Warner Bros. This time, the selection came on recommendation from someone Iger trusted, instead of his own instincts.
Horn brought decades of experience working with people, in both the business and creative wings of the entertainment industry. He also had tremendous resolve, after creating huge success for Warner Bros. in the 2000s with the Harry Potter movie series. It was the right person, at the right time, with the right set of circumstances.
Working for Disney, however, Horn got the chance to prove his talent. With the Marvel franchise firmly in their grasp, Disney went on to break all box office records in the 2010s with more than 20 movies that each earned over $1 billion in ticket sales. Horn was in charge of nearly 75 percent of them.
Iger went on to say,
Surround yourself with people who are good in addition to being good at what they do. You can’t always predict who will have ethical lapses or reveal a side of themselves you never suspected was there. In the worst cases, you’ll have to deal with acts that reflect badly on the company and demand censure … you have to demand honesty and integrity from everyone, and when there’s a lapse you have to deal with it immediately.
He took the words right out of my mouth … surround yourself with a coach, a mentor and a mastermind group online. If you don’t know where to start, I want to invite you to consider the Iron Sharpens Iron masterminds online we offer for men, women and young men ages 20-25.
Live on purpose.