'Tis the Season to Spring Forward

In most of the U.S., we are reminded annually to “spring forward” and set our time to daylight savings with the advent of spring. As summer wanes and the days grow shorter, the mantra is to “fall back” to standard time. In addition to being seasonal reminders, these phrases also offer insights about the selection of leaders.

The Search for Leaders
In executive selection, one of the prerequisites I always look for are forward-thinking candidates who are energetically and positively focused. These individuals are absolutely intentional about what they have to say, and about where they are headed. Candidates who “spring forward” act purposefully. They possess determination and have their futures framed, if not tightly targeted. Leaders with this mindset may display varying degrees of energy--some spring forward with relish, others with quiet confidence; but they all have clearly defined directions. These leaders marshal others to their visions, and attract partners or employers by modeling their focused leadership styles.

Compare these candidates to those who prefer to “fall back”, size things up, and delay or avoid decision-making. People with these characteristics can often be spotted as reacting to “available options” or “opportunities” as they seek solutions to what lies ahead. Many claim a desire for being in charge, especially when they see attractive reward systems for leadership positions. Yet, achievement followed by feelings of emptiness is a common experience when they accomplish their goals. They may get the jobs and related rewards, but miss the career progress and long term value they presumed would accompany their lucrative offers.

Individuals functioning with uncertainty, rumination or misgivings are respected for their care and study of serious matters; but they tend to seek out people much like themselves--those who prefer to see things from the rear view mirror. This makes it difficult to apply the term “leader” to these faithful stewards.

Choose Wisely
There is a kinetic motion associated with people who spring forward. The intentional career manager believes in a world of abundance. These individuals target their future, recognizing where their gifts may best be put to work. Forward-minded individuals carry a firm belief that their gifts are in demand.  In turn, this sense of confidence attracts people to them. Reactive job seekers fear a limited market, so they massage their resumes and pull out all the stops to network in order to find what they view as scarce opportunities.

Candidates with  reactive mindsets typically have a career management strategy based on what others think. Purposeful career managers look first within themselves to discern where they should apply their talents.

If you are looking for a leader, it is wise to stay focused on executive candidates who “spring forward” rather than “fall back.” Their focused determination will keep them and the organizations they lead moving in forward directions.