The Importance Of Finding Employees With An Inner Rudy by Roz Usheroff
“You just summed up your entire sorry career here in one sentence! If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you’d have made All-American by now! As it is, you just went from third team to the prep team! Get out of here!”
Even though I am not what you would consider to be a football fan, there are nonetheless many powerful moments in the movie Rudy from which the above quote has been taken.
Moments that I believe transcend the sports world, and apply to both business and life in general.
The reason I thought about this movie, and in particular this scene, is that I was recently asked the question does desire and commitment trump talent alone?
The individual, who is a senior executive with a large corporation, posed the question because he was having difficulty in deciding which one of two people on his management team would be promoted to a new, more demanding position.
On one hand, the candidate who he had initially favored was – at least on paper, capable of doing a great job based on a long list of degrees and academic accomplishment. In other words, he possessed the prerequisite skill sets that appeared to perfectly align with the requirements of the job. However, he had never demonstrated a desire to do more than what was necessary to get by in terms of fulfilling his past assignments.
In considering this individual, the executive’s hope was that when faced with a new and bigger challenge, he would find his passion and rise to the occasion. In essence finally deliver on the potential the company saw in him when he was first hired.
The other candidate, who was now being seriously considered, at first wasn’t even on the radar screen for the new position. After all, the executive explained to me, she did not have the same level of education as the “preferred” candidate, nor did she have the same level of seniority. What she did have however, was a desire to excel in everything that she did.
If she did not know the answer to a particular question, she would without fail do the research that was necessary to get the right information.
If there was a need for overtime or to double check her work to make certain that it was the best it could be, she did so without fail. She was even available to help fellow employees with their assignments when called upon.
In short, and while she wasn’t as qualified as the preferred candidate, she did possess what I call an inner Rudy. She had heart and a burning desire to succeed.
The difficulty according to my executive friend was determining which candidate was more likely to excel in the new position. Which one would be the best hire?
Would the candidate who was clearly more qualified for the position finally live up to his potential?
Alternatively, and even though he had no doubt that the less qualified candidate would give it her very best, would that best be good enough? Would she be up to the task?
Rather than simply giving him an answer in favor of one or the other, I asked him a question.
When you first started out, and eventually rose to the position you are in today, what made you successful?
At first he looked confused, but then paused for a moment to think about my words.
He then said that despite his level of education, he had throughout his career, encountered many challenges that required him to look outside of what he knew to seek the answer. In doing so, he relied heavily on the support of others – his fellow employees, managers and mentors.
However, the one thing he learned is that their level of support, and his ability to find an answer, originated with his desire to do the best job he could.
I then reminded him of a quote regarding Henry Ford from Napoleon Hill’s book Think And Grow Rich. Specifically Hill’s assertion of Ford’s belief that “Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action.”
In the end, I told him that I think this definition of education still holds true today, because it reflects a true desire to excel, and a real heart for achievement.
Given the above, if you were in this executive’s shoes, who would you hire?
The one thing I will tell you, is that the executive ultimately made the right decision.
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