No, this is not a Dr. Seuss quote. Selecting, growing, developing and promoting the right WHO is how we WIN. We can have the most insightful and progressive strategies and incredibly aggressive goals. However, it takes the right individual to execute strategies and goals for success. We win with Who!

Not long into a new job, my boss walked out of his office  and stood over my desk. “You are young and you are female. Get over it and win them over with your competence.” He knew that I had been struggling with some executives to influence their thinking. The environment was full of seasoned male professionals and I was questioning whether or not I could make an impact or any contribution at all.

Now understand, my boss was not biased and he was not insensitive. Instead, he understood that if I dwelled on what I could not control, I would not be effective in my role, and certainly never become an effective leader. He was also wise enough to know that one of these characteristics would soon take care of itself and the other one eventually became far less an issue as my reputation grew.

As it turned out, competency was only one of the qualities needed to influence others in the organization. What are the other important characteristics? They are character and chemistry. Leaders and contributors, alike, influence others in the organization based on:

  1. Character
  2. Competency
  3. Chemistry

Without certain qualities in my character, I would not have been able to have the tenacity to persist through the things I could not control. Candidates, leaders and team members need to have character qualities that match the organization. If not, they don’t fit in and they cannot make contributions or effectively lead. Members of the organization need to align with the purpose, mission and core values of the organization. Does it have to be a perfect match? No, but the closer the alignment, the greater the chance of sustained influence.

For a team member to make contributions to organization, competency must match the role. Select talent with the skills, experience and abilities to be successful in the available role. Grow and develop skills as team members gain experience to fill future roles. Don’t promote people into roles in which they are not competent. A mismatch between role and competency will result in a lack of influence within the organization.

Chemistry is so elusive and hard to define. We know it when we see it and we know it when we don’t have it. For team members to have influence, their chemistry needs to match the team. Use caution when moving people within the organization. She might have the competency for a role but if her chemistry does not match the team she serves, she will not have influence within the team.

Over time, I have observed that organizations that succeed in talent selection, mobility and leadership development focus on three qualities in their talent:

  1. Character that matches the organization.
  2. Competency that matches the role.
  3. Chemistry that matches the team.

When we select, grow and promote talent using these principles, our organizations win with who!