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By David Harder on December, 17, 2017

The Single Most Important Trait in New Hires Might Surprise You

The wise holocaust survivor and philosopher Elie Wiesel said, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” The dynamic can exponentially grow in its impact on an organization. Over the years, I have often been asked to help an employer decide between two top candidates. I usually respond, “Hire the one that is most grateful.” Why? These are the individuals that are inherently skilled in connecting with others; they bring positive energy to a team, and they demonstrate predictably strong and sustained performance.


We can gauge the “attitude toward gratitude” by watching and listening. Gratitude is often displaced by consumerism. For example, the great actress Elizabeth Taylor was once asked to describe her spiritual philosophy. She laughed and responded, “More.” Taylor wrestled with demons throughout her life. But, she overcame them by practicing gratitude. In the last 30 years of her life, she was a great force of good in our town and throughout the world. But, the point of her remark holds up the reality that when we always want more, we fixate our way out of the present. We are not enough. The people around us are not enough.


The grateful tend to be generous in praising others and generous when someone praises them. In our programs, we often discuss how gratitude and praise are skills that help us build and sustain effective support systems.


This dynamic is vital in building and sustaining effective support systems. We didn’t need a lot of support in the old industrial revolution workplace – clocking-in and clocking-out seemed to be sufficient. But in today’s rapidly changing workplace, we need the right help all of the time. The praise-filled workplace is a helpful and engaged place to work. Let us be clear, I’m not suggesting hiring soft people or individuals who cast aside strong critical thinking. Years ago, there was a career development book on the market entitled, Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. I never bought the premise. Andy Warhol’s outlook was far more realistic when he said, “Do what you love, you can always sell it.” Gratitude is one of the single most common characteristics of our greatest salespeople. Many described Warhol as one of the most grateful people they ever met.


Gratitude can have a great impact on a brand. A few years ago, we were delivering engagement programs to one of our largest clients. They went through a significant reorganization, the first in many years. Senior management came to me and asked Inspired Work to handle the outplacement. We turned them down on the spot. In large organizations, word-of-mouth is the single most effective way to grow our work. We had built enormous goodwill at the organization, which would have been irreparably damaged if we took the project.


With our individual clients, we find that getting someone onto the right path, finding the work they were born to do, and solving a seemingly unsolvable problem with their work produces gratitude and a turning point. On the other hand, when someone comes from, “It’s just a job” everyone around them suffers.


Earlier this year, I went through an extremely difficult period. We lost my brother-in-law. He was 54 when the police found him slumped over the wheel of his car – gone in an instant. The evening after his memorial service, my partner and I went to the Diana Krall concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was one of those sublime concerts that transported most everyone. As we walked down the hill, I stepped on a grease spot, flew, sprained my ankle and tore a six-inch hole in my favorite slacks. The following morning, I woke up in physical and emotional pain. There is a spiritual support group near our home at the beach. I hobbled to my seat. But, as I sat there watching the waves roll in and the speaker gave a moving gratitude-filled message, I realized that all the challenges in my life are high-quality problems. It is a high-quality problem to fall after a Diana Krall concert. It is a high-quality problem to wrestle with all the love in my life. It is a high-quality problem to have fatigue because I’m running a business and doing a media tour. It is a high-quality problem to grieve the loss of a great human being. Gratitude has saved and improved my life many times over.


This is the nature of gratitude. Instead of dealing with survival, we get to work on becoming better human beings. The challenge is no longer how to get through the day, it is how to be kinder and more loving by the end of the day. The focus isn’t just making more money and power. It is about how many lives we can touch, how much we can improve the world, and how we can help others be their very best.


When we praise someone who is grateful, they do not respond with, “Oh, it was nothing.” When someone does that, she or he is telling us, “Don’t notice me.”


Years ago, we moved our business and my home into a spectacular location in the city. We invited our clients and friends to a big housewarming party. One of my clients couldn’t be there. That afternoon, a sizeable crate was delivered to the front door. Her name was on the return address. When we opened it, there was a collective gasp. It was a gorgeous work-of-art. I knew the artists and realized how much time and money went into finding the perfect gift. I got her on the phone with very specific praise. “It is clear to me that you put so much thought and love into this beautiful gift.” As I continued, she got choked up. I reacted, “Why are you crying. I’m the one that ought to be crying.” She simply said, “You so get it. Thank you.”


Candidly, this highly successful CEO treats her employees, suppliers, vendors, delivery people, and customers with the kind of gratitude that has led to one of the finest workplaces I know. Her genuine gratitude makes most everyone around her bend over backward to do their best and be their best.


Raise the standard of hiring to requires this one trait. Years ago, I was redesigning my career around the standard of happiness. I wrote down one statement that changed my entire life:


“I will only work with brilliant and loving people.”


There are many organizations that have big doses of the cynical, the self-serving, the angry, the bitter, and the disengaged. Hire the people who not only have the skills that you need. Hire the one who says things like,


“I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”


“I get to work with the best people in the world.”


“This is the best job I’ve ever had.”


Otherwise, keep looking!


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)


To discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes, Here.