hr | September 11, 2012

Two Leadership Speakers on Why “Personality” at Work Matters

"We really need to clearly look at people and who they really are," leadership speaker Arkadi Kuhlmann said recently. The ING Direct founder adds that employers “need to get back to the fundamentals of personality, character [and] what drives someone." Bill Strickland, the president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation agrees. "Corporations need to learn to treat their people differently," he said. "Their people are their biggest asset." Strickland and Kuhlmann are both Lavin exclusive speakers, and, in a series of joint interviews with the CareerBuilder Executive Summit, they explained that a potential hire's personality is just as important as their actual skills.

Similar to what Kuhlman addresses in his books The Orange Code:How ING Direct Succeeded by Being A Rebel with a Cause and Rock Then Roll:The Secrets of Culture-Driven Leadership, both speakers agree that a successful business is one that encourages innovation and leadership at every level of the corporation. "Everyone wants to be actively employed, motivated and challenged," Kuhlman explains, "I think we've gotta' create those circumstances."

"Ask [employees] what they think," Strickland advises. "Get them engaged in the conversation that's building the company [because] the smart companies do that."

Strickland, the author of Make the Impossible Possible, says that he's "living this [advice] everyday" at his community centre and in the presentations he gives to corporations. He suggests that the best way to untap hidden potential in employees is by treating them with respect and support. Utilizing personality and social attributes to match candidates with jobs ensures that the employer and employee will work well together, even before the first day on the job.

Whether in this interview, or on stage, sharing their philosophies with prominent business leaders, both Kuhlman and Strickland circle back to a central argument: company culture and believing in the potential of your employees is as important as anything else.