In my last post I wrote about the importance of being able to develop leaders rather than relying on finding experienced leaders. In a small community like ours, the resource pool of experienced leaders is pretty shallow. To build effective leadership teams for your organization you must rely on your ability to develop new leaders. To that end, I introduced the FAT test for leadership candidates.
“FAT” is an acronym that stands for Faithful, Available, and Teachable, the three core character qualities to look for in a leadership candidate. Last time I covered “Faithful.” In this post I will address “Available” and “Teachable.”
A is for “Available.” Once you have determined that a candidate is faithful, you next must determine if they are available to be part of your leadership team. There is an old adage in business that says, “if you want something done give it to a busy person.” While there is some truth to that, there is such a thing as being too busy.
In our society we have a tendency to become over committed. We get involved in too many things to the point that we cannot give our best to any of them. You want a leader who has balance in their life. It is okay to be busy, but is their life in balance? When asking if a leadership candidate is available what you are looking for is if they have the time required in their schedule to do an effective job at the leadership position for which you are considering them, without adversely impacting balance in the other areas of their life? A person who is over committed or out of balance may be a great leader for a time, but sooner or later their life is going to unravel and it will impact their work.
On the flip side, if a person is not involved in anything and they have a lot of available time, you have to wonder why? Are they available because no one else wants them? Availability is sometimes easy to spot and other times it requires your gut instincts. Just be honest with yourself. It is easy to fall in love with a candidate and let your heart rule your head in the availability question. Make sure the candidate has the availability necessary to focus on the training and leadership responsibilities required for the job.
Finally, T is for “Teachable.” Confidence in an admirable quality for a leader, but with that confidence must be a humility that says, “I may be good, but I can always be better.” A leader must have a teachable spirit. They must be willing to learn new ways of doing things. They must be willing to learn ways to improve their leadership skills, communications skills, and even learn the way business is done around here. Bringing their own ideas to the party is great, but a leadership candidate must be willing to learn from everyone around them, regardless of where they fall on the org chart. True leaders are life-long learners.
If a candidate does not display a teachable spirit, move on. As the old saying goes, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Trying to make a leader out of someone who is not teachable is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of your time.
If you are having a hard time finding qualified leaders for your organization it may be time to start developing your own. Start with giving candidates the FAT test. If they are FAT, you are well on your way to having the best qualified leaders your organization has ever had.