The 2012 presidential election brings unprecedented domestic and international issues to the forefront. But if you could hypothetically take issues off the table for a moment, character could actually trump everything, as it could in your career search. In other words, if a presidential candidate or your future boss promised you the world, but you had little trust in him or her in terms of delivering on promises, would any of them really have meaning?
Conversely, when you feel a strong sense of reliability in one of the candidates - or a prospective manager with whom you recently interviewed - their missions somehow have exponentially more credibility.
Honesty, trustworthiness, consistency, ability to admit to mistakes, likeability, good communications, respect, strong leadership . . . and results: these are the pivotal traits desired in bosses at all levels, according to countless surveys I've reviewed or commissioned over in the last 20 years.
What Should You Look for in a Boss?
If you're a looking for a job, it's good to keep in mind what comprises character and a sustained, mutually rewarding relationship with your boss. In early correspondence and interviews, for example, look for clear and consistent communications. See if there’s a mission outlined that you can understand. Does your hiring manager care to explain in the interview how the big picture affects your job and growth prospects?
No one expects their leader – be it a presidential candidate or your boss - to be infallible, but when there are inconsistencies or mistakes, the boss must speak up. In one study Lynn Taylor Consulting commissioned, 91% of employees said that owning up to one's mistakes as a manager was an important factor in employee job satisfaction. Does your interviewer seem like this type of person, or is he more interested in potentially saving face?
There is a good reason that many undecided voters choose with their gut. As an example, if the country was under another unforeseen attack, it may not be what the candidate said pre-election that determines what they do in a matter of seconds; it's their judgment. If you “fast forward,” voters are likely more concerned with whom they trust handling a catastrophe - versus any public policies or statements made before the election.
Similarly, when interviewing for your next job, you don't really know how your boss will be when under pressure, or how much work will be expected from you. But you can get a sense of whether she will be reasonable by the character she displays in the interview. That is, if you make sure you have your human relations radar up.
Pre-election or pre-acceptance of your next job, you have an opportunity to use emotional intelligence in your choice. Judging character is often a useful factor in swaying undecided voters ...and job applicants.
When choosing your next boss, here’s a checklist to consider. (Notice how they may apply to your vote this year):
1) Reliability – does he seem like he’ll do what he promises? Did he make you wait in the lobby? Does he seem as interested in your future as his?
2) Communications – Is she listening to you, or thinking of the next question?
3) The larger good – Is he more interested in his personal growth, or the larger good of the company?
4) Ability to lead – Does she seem able to guide and motivate others with passion, respect and conviction?
5) Flexibility – Would he be able to change course when events dictate?
6) Proven track record – Last but not least, does she have a proven track record that makes you want to be part of her team?
Whether it’s our next country’s boss or your next manager, you are in the driver’s seat to do the "hiring." Reflect on the meaning of trust – because in the end, that’s all you have – and that includes your career choices.