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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Leadership: Attitude and Aptitude

Motivational speaker and sales training guru, Zig Ziglar once said: “It is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Recently in a new book, The Breakthrough Company by Keith McFarland, one CEO said that he hired for attitude and then trained aptitude. Both of these quotes struck home for me because too frequently, we read a resume that includes entries referring to Princeton and Yale and Harvard or Stanford Business School—along with McKinsey or Booz Allen, and we go gaga—a bit like an intellectual love at first sight. The candidate interviews well, is bright, personable and shining. But some months later, we see a poisonous attitude seep into the culture and when we track it back to our superstar, we try to re-train them…educate them into a new attitude. Hard stuff. I’m not saying it can’t be done or that we shouldn’t try. Certainly executive coaches can help. But wouldn’t it be easier in the long run to hire attitude? In many cases, you can train aptitude.

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