Some of my favorite people are in town

I’m a tough customer when it comes to recognizing leaders in our industry. We all have our personal opinions on who is good and who is blowing a bunch of hot air. I don’t take much at face value. I am sure there’s some kind of personality assessment that will assign some animal or color to this trait; if people want me to think they know their stuff, they have to prove it to me. They should feel like they have to prove it to everyone else too.

I definitely think that people are too willing to assign the descriptor “industry leader” to those in the staffing space who have a platform. I’ve heard people describe me that way a time or two and it made me uncomfortable. In the words of Charles Barkley “I’m not a role model”. I’m just someone who is passionate about what they do, has some good ideas and takes a risk every once in a while. I know a number of people like that. 

Then there are the others in the industry that spend a little too much doing their Zoolander look in the mirror. All posing and lots of blah, blah, blah buzzwords. “Love me….adore me…call me a leader”. I’m not into that stuff. I’m not trying to call anyone out. We can all do a little introspection and determine whether we have those moments and whether we are maybe trying a litle too hard to sell ourselves as leaders in the industry.

Anyway, the people that I see as true leaders are those that raise the bar in this profession; either by example or in an advisory capacity. I have a minor talent for uncovering the hidden pitfalls in an idea or a program (it’s not being negative…it’s getting past roadblocks…seriously!) and admire others that can do that and then articulately counsel on a plan of attack (I’m not as skilled in the latter than the former). I want to be more like them and I want to spend as much time with them as possible soaking up every bit of information that they are willing to share.

For me, two of those people have been Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin and I get to introduce them Wednesday at our (Microsoft’s) International Staffing Summit (whee!). They have acted as godfathers to me in helping me manage my career when this blogging thing took off and people started to know who I am/was/whatever (not that it’s that big of a deal, but it did change how I thought about my career). They don’t know everything to know about staffing but they know everyone you need to know to find out anything about staffing (got that?) and that’s cool. They are the kind of people you can call and ask “Am I crazy for thinking this?” and they will actually tell you if you are. No side stepping with them…don’t ask if you don’t want to know.

I’m writing down what I am going to say when I introduce them and it started me thinking why I admire them so much and how excited I am that my peers get to hear from them as well. Our summit is taking place throughout the week and it will be great to have all of staffing (worldwide) together. If I have any epiphanies, I’ll let you know.

Comments (8)

  1. Toby Getsch says:

    Ping!  I commented about this on my blog.

    Charles Barkley is a role model.

    You baited me in, by talking about Sir Charles!  😉

  2. I think a neat thing about Gerry and Mark is that they are indeed "Gerry and Mark".  They have been partners for a long time and their work shows the multiplier of a successful partnership in action.  

    I spent some time with both at the Talent Unconference and it is striking how different they are in some ways- Gerry the natural promotor and huge extravert and Mark the analyst and semi-skeptic.

    In the staffing sense, those two are a walking example of how a team can empower it’s members when in balance with the task at hand.

    Thats why to me, staffing often is not about hiring individuals, but more often working with a complex admixture suited for a certain environment only.

    I can’t belive I didnt tag Heather with the 7 unknown leadership elements meme…..

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Toby – just commented on your blog. I agree and disagree.

    Martin – Gerry and Mark are very different. I really got to know Gerry first as he’s coached me through some situations (yeah, yeah, it turns out everything he said was right…glad I took his advice). If you ever need to hear "you can do it", Gerry’s the guy. Then I got to know Mark and I ttoally agree….semi-skeptic. In that way, I can definitely identify! You know, now that I think about it, I actually spoke with Mark first. He won’t remember, but I had their book back in 1997 (probably…maybe 1998) and I had a question so I called him. This is before I came to Microsoft. Fast forward about 8 years and Gerry called and asked me to participate in their colloquium that they were holding on our campus, so I could share about blogging.

    You know, you make a good point. They could really be a case study in successful partnerhsips. When I need something, I send an e-mail to both of them and at this point, I can just about predict who is going to respond based on what I asked.

    Ooh, and I am glad I avoided the leadership meme. I’ve heard of a loaded question, but a loaded meme? Sheesh, you might as well ask about my success as a supermodel : ) I’d take the Manaster approach and identify leadership qualities I find in others (hmm, role models even) and try to emulate.

  4. tod hilton says:

    On the role model thing, I think that publicity/celebrity forces someone to become accountable in a bigger circle of influence. In Charle’s Barkley’s case, the "I’m not a role model" line is a copout for not wanting to be held accountable for his actions. He’s more than willing to cash in on his celebrity status for $ (commercials, endorsements, etc.).  Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Barkley, but I think he plays stuff up to his own advantage.

    Obviously, your celebrity status is a little different so I wouldn’t force you into the role model status.  🙂

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gee thanks…my Bentley’s in the shop anyway.

  6. tod hilton says:

    Well, at least you still have the Rolls. 🙂

  7. tod hilton says:

    Ok, maybe my comment didn’t come out right. You are obviously a well respected member of the recruiting community. You are knowledgeable, well spoken and carry yourself with sincerity, dignity and self-respect. You might not consider yourself a role model, but your personality and actions (blogging) have put you in that position (whether you want it or not).

    Regarding Barkley, he’s respected because of his basketball skills, not his personality or actions. He’s looked up to for a physical ability, period. Yours is different as it’s not just something you do for a living, but also the way you portray yourself while doing it. Barkely can act like an arrogant ass on the court, but people will still look up to him for his ability to play. If you were to act like an ass while doing your job then you might find yourself in a much different position.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense, but in my head I see a distinct difference…and pink polka-dotted elephants.  🙂

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ack! Stop! : )

    I do see the difference, but trust me, there are people that don’t like me as well. Everyone has detractors.