How to Recruit the Right People First Time

Cheerful Diverse Business People Standing in RowIn 2015 SouthWest Airlines received a job application every two seconds, but it was very selective. It received over 287,000 resumes from which it interviewed 102,112 candidates, and hired only 6,582 people. Why has SouthWest Airlines gone to such an extreme to recruit so few people, less than 2% of all applicants?

The key to the hiring process is to hire the people whose values mirror yours, and who will be engaged from day one. SouthWest Airlines don’t hire for skills, but for three attributes:

  • A warrior spirit – a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate
  • A servant’s heart – the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers
  • A fun-loving attitude – passion, joy and an aversion to taking yourself too seriously.

And when they are hiring for these key attributes they are interviewing them using behavioral questions to determine whether the candidates already have and are living them. You do need skills, but it is the attributes that people have that will differentiate them. The on-going need for these attributes is reflected in SouthWest Airlines’ development and promotion practices, and especially for those who aspire to a leadership role.

This is good for the company, but how good is this for the employees? In a 2014 employee survey, when SouthWest Airlines staff were asked whether they felt like their job was “just a job,” “a stepping stone,” or “a calling,” nearly 75% selected, “a calling,” and 86% said they were proud to work for Southwest. So hiring for values seems to be working for both the company and the employees.

How are you hiring in your business? And what attributes are you looking for? Will you be as selective in your process? Do you want your employees to feel that what they do is not just a job, but “a calling”?

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Using the Leadership/Management Matrix to Develop Your People

Leadership and management may complement each other, but they are very different

So which is more important, management or leadership? This is not the right question to ask, rather the question to ask what is the balance between management and leadership that you need to have? To answer this, you need to at what role each plays. Management ensures the stability and efficiency necessary to run today’s business reliably. Leadership creates the change needed to take advantage of new opportunities, to avoid serious threats, and to create and execute new strategies. The point is that management and leadership are very different, and when organizations are of any size and exist in environments which are volatile, both are essential to helping them win.

The Leadership/Management Matrix

The management/leadership matrix show what happens when you have weak or strong leadership interacting with weak or strong management.  The four quadrants are:

  • Doomed – weak management, weak leadership.  Here the business is run inefficiently and with no clear direction to guide and align people’s efforts, decisions and the allocation of resources.  People are not inspired or motivated to achieve high-performance, and the business is losing to its competitors.  The business is unlikely to survive beyond the short-term.
  • Innovative – weak management, strong leadership. Here the business is able to adapt quickly and effectively, but there is insufficient management and associated skills in place to drive stability, efficiency and to create the necessary order to manage the resulting complexity and create order from which to build.
  • Well run but bureaucratic – strong management, weak leadership.  Here the business is well-structured and managed; it works efficiently which is good while the status quo exists.  However, in an environment of change it finds itself relatively rigid and inflexible with its existing bureaucracy and organization being unable to adapt effectively.  This can expose the business with existing strengths potentially becoming major liabilities, potential competitors going unrecognized or changes in customer needs going unmet.
  • Well run and innovative – strong management, strong leadership.  Here there is a healthy balance of management and leadership skills and capacity.  The business has a clear direction around which everyone and all actions are aligned, people are inspired and motivated, and as a result they work both efficiently and effectively.  They are competitive, adaptive and have the right mix of skills, capacity enabled by a strong business culture which supports the people in their work.

Look at this matrix and, for you and your team, assess their level of management and their level of leadership.  People do not need to be a manager or a leader per se, nor is it about their position in their hierarchy. Rather it is how good they are at delivering on and exemplifying the attributes got management and leadership (see the table below for ideas).

Score yourself and each of your team members on leadership and management using the following scoring range of 0 (very weak) to 10 (very strong).  The two scorings will give you each individual’s relative positioning and your own.  A good idea is to assess people yourself, then get them to self-assess, and then to share your respective findings and discuss the differences/similarities. This is a good tool to identify where and how an individual needs to develop their management and/or leadership skills. This can then be used in helping put together their personal development plan.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Flea Training

What is the one thing that limits your personal success most?

This is a story originally told by Zig Ziglar – a leading sales trainer and motivational speaker. It is a good story – short, to the point and memorable. I won’t say anymore – just take a moment to sit back and enjoy this particular gem.

Flea Training

Fleas basically do two things… They jump and they ride dogs… 

If you want to train a flea what you gotta do is put a flea in a jar, and if you put a flea in a jar, the flea will jump right out of the jar.  So in order to train the flea, what you do is put a lid on the jar and you watch the flea jump and the flea will jump – clap – clap – clap – clap.  You watch that flea jump and hit its head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back 10 minutes later, the flea is still jumping clap – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back an hour later, the flea is still jumping – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back an hour later, the flea is still jumping – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

About two hours later at some point, the itty bitty flea even with his itty bitty brain figures out that hitting the inside lid of the jar is not such a good idea and so the flea alters its jumping pattern.  The flea still jumps nonstop but now it’s jumping about an inch from the inside lid of the jar.  You’ve trained the flea at this point.  You can virtually take the lid off the jar and watch the flea jump from now until doomsday and guess what?  That flea is never jumping out of the jar. 

Folks, that flea has all the power in the world to jump right out of that jar, but it can’t and it won’t and the reason why is because the flea doesn’t know the difference between a real limitation being the lid and a limitation it put on itself.  Most people, unfortunately, are the same way.  Most people don’t know the difference between a real limitation and a self-imposed limitation – and I’m here to tell you that there are no real limitations. 

Oh sure, if you have no legs you got some limitations.  Sure if you didn’t go to Harvard, you have some limitations.  At the end of the day, there really are no limitations except what you decide are limitations.  There are no real limitations.  There may be some challenges, there may be some things you have to overcome, but there are no real stops in your life.  There are no real limitations in your life – it’s what you put on yourself”

I smile every time I read this story. It reminds me that what I achieve is up to me, that the biggest barrier I face is myself, and my biggest supporter is myself.  It reminds me to wake up every day and choose to succeed and achieve.  Share this story with your colleagues, your team, your friends, and family – help them see and realize their own potential, and in doing that do it for yourself!

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Stop Fear from Stopping You

People often experience fear and concern over what is happening or not happening as they perceive it.  As a leader, how do you manage fear?

A good piece of advice from Olivia Blanchard chief economist of the IMF was: “first and foremost, reduce uncertainty….Above all, adopt clear policies and act decisively”. When people have a clear mission then they can transform anxiety into action and productivity.

People need the opportunity, a warning as it were, so they can put themselves in the right frame of mind. When people are aware there is a looming disaster or threat prepare themselves better and become more resilient.

To help your team master their fear, and to use it judo-like to their and your benefit, help them by taking these three steps:

  • Recognize that you and they are afraid – if you can’t be honest with yourself and them about this then you can’t expect them to be.  Being prepared to admit you are afraid and ready to face your fear is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It also stops people from letting the fear fester causing their energy and self-confidence to be eroded.
  • Frame the situation as an opportunity – this helps people to think more innovatively and creatively.  To quote “When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems.  When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities”  In changing times what got you here won’t get you there.  You need to get different results, and to get different results you need to behave and think differently. As Einstein put it “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
  • Develop a sense of urgency – help them use and focus their liberated energy and enthusiasm to take action and get some “quick wins” whilst building for the longer-term.

Fear is only in our mind, so use your mind to “throw” it to your advantage.  By doing you also help others to do the same for themselves and become more resilient, flexible and adaptable in the process.

To view or download a PDF version of this article click here.

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Your Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence

You have limited time, resources and energy to expend on getting work done, projects completed and achieving the results you are looking for.  As such you need to be able to use these limited and finite resources effectively.  To do this you need to be able to distinguish between what lies within your Circle of Concern and your Circle of Influence as shown in the picture below:

Circle of Concern and Influence

  • The Circle of Concern – this larger circle encompasses  everything that you are concerned about, including those things over which you exert no control or influence e.g. the level of tax, terrorist threats, the current interest rate on loans and mortgages etcetera.  We tend to waste a lot of our time, effort and mental energy in the Circle of Concern.  This produces nothing as we are unable to overcome the inertia or have any effect.
  • The Circle of Influence is smaller, and it encompasses those things that we can do something about.  These are those things where we can be proactive and, by taking action for ourselves, address them. Here we invest our time, energy and effort on the things that we can change.  This produces results and momentum forward.

The two circles – Concern and Influence – are about the choices you make and the results you want.

The Circle of Concern is where you find people who focus on that which they cannot influence. They are reactive, stressed and ineffectual.  The Circle of Influence is where we find people who choose to focus on things that they can influence.

By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, people are increasingly proactive. The energy we expend is enlarging; each small victory motivates us further exert influence. We don’t waste energy on things we can do nothing about, but direct it towards what we can change. With each step we feel stronger and more creative. And so our circle of influence expands.

By focusing on what we can influence we also start to understand better what we cannot influence. We develop a better understanding of our circle of concern, and what it includes and does not include – it may even expand our circle of concern. This provides us with a fuller and better appreciation of the context in which we work, and helps us to better focus on our efforts on what we can influence. It can be incredibly liberating to realize that, in choosing how to respond to circumstances, we affect those circumstances. If we want to cope with the challenges we face, then we need to learn how we can influence them.

Share this diagram with your team, colleagues, and clients to help them distinguish between the two, what lies within their Circle of Influence whilst being aware of what lies within their Circle of Concern – and to focus their efforts on what they can influence, not that over which they have no control. This will provide greater traction, reduced stress and a more effective and productive team who can achieve results more easily.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.


Gaining Visibility with Senior Management

To be visible to the senior management and executives in your organization you need to be develop and share a profile of who you are, what you have to offer and how you could fit a more senior role.
There are many ways to do this, but the most effective way is to do so from the perspective of your senior managers and executives. To gain visibility, relevance and acceptability with them it is not about what they can do for you but what you can do for them.

Seven Ways to Gain Visibility

  1. Have relevant business conversations – if you want to have significant influence on business decision making and get included in shaping the future you need to be actively involved in the business conversations that are being held. Don’t just sit there and listen, making mental comments to yourself. Listen, and when you speak make sure your discussion and contribution is relevant and meaningful, don’t talk for the sake of talking.
    Six areas which are key when holding business discussions, and will help you focus your discussions include:
    •   Improving business capability
    •   Activities that build and maintain competitive advantage
    •   Things that are being done to improve business productivity
    •   How you are mitigating current and future risk
    •   How you are supporting earnings / funding and how it is tracking to   industry standards, and
    •   Proposed investments that support business sustainability.
  2. Demonstrate commercial awareness and care – business leaders want people who have business acumen and understand that a business has to remain profitable to be a going concern. Demonstrating commercial awareness and understanding of this, especially how revenues and costs can be improved, is of interest and relevance to senior leaders and will help you garner their respect.
  3. Working effectively – to stand out you need to not only be efficient in what you do (doing things right), but you need to be effective (doing the right things). Being efficient but ineffective is akin to working well on things that don’t add value – in other words you accelerate failure and problems. Becoming irrelevant has a lot to do with finding more effective ways to do inefficient things. So become relevant by doing the right things (being effective) efficiently.
  4. Demonstrate reliability – being reliable is about constantly performing at the right level and being able to do so when meeting unexpected challenges. To be reliable you need to do what you have said you will do, deliver on your promise, and to do so repeatedly. Doing this produces trust – and senior leaders need to trust you before they will give you opportunities to grow and succeed.
  5. Be resilient – in times of accelerating change your ability to manage and adapt in tough times and lead through uncharted waters is key. You need to be able to work through problems, keep your emotions and self in control, and deal with the situations you encounter. This includes staying calm, seeking support and advice, and leading others through difficult time so they can be more resilient themselves.
  6. Demonstrate good judgement – you need to be self-confident (but not arrogant), in touch with reality and understand your business well. In doing this you also need to understand the context of the situation you are dealing with; if you are not sure then get input from those who can provide ideas, insight and experience. Don’t let your ego take control. Leadership is a dish best served shared!
  7. Demonstrate collaboration and show peer respect – collaboration is key for leaders to be both individually and collectively successful. If you place yourself above others you will, eventually, lose credibility and relevance to them. Don’t become a ‘hostage of yourself’. Demonstrate that you can work with people around you.

How well do you do in these areas? Even more important, how well do others think you do? This is probably more important as it is their perception which is what matters. Don’t forget being a leader is not just what those above you think of you, but what your peers and reports think.

To find out more how you can do this and develop a structured programme to deliver measurable growth in leadership effectiveness, and in doing so raise organizational performance and create further career opportunities for yourself, contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC) at or call Andrew on +61 (0)401 842 673.

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)



Attitude vs. Aptitude

Which is more important to you – having people with the right attitude or people with the right aptitude?

Most people say both. But when we look to retain and attract people we do so on the basis of  the skills they have – their aptitude. But when we fire people we do so, in about 90% of all cases, for their attitude.  Is it me or is there a discrepancy here?

So what are the differences between aptitudes and attitudes?

  • Aptitudes are our potential to learn skills which we develop and hone through time. What works, you continue using. What does not, you strive to change. However, aptitudes alone cannot take you all the way through the path to success.
  • Attitudes determine what and how much you can do. It is like an engine – it can either slow you down or accelerate you forward.

The fundamental difference here, for managers and leaders, is that you can train people for weaknesses in aptitude – but you cannot train people out of an attitude weakness.  Attitude is internal to the individual, you cannot motivate a person to change themselves – they have to motivate themselves to change.

As leaders we have to deal with people who exhibit different aptitudes and attitudes, these are shown in the Aptitude-Attitude matrix below. This  tool highlights what you need to do with different people depending on where they sit in the matrix and is useful when assessing your team or direct reports.

Attitude-Aptitude Matrix

If attitude is internal to an individual, how can you can motivate them  to change themselves.  There are three ways you ca influence them:

  1. Using carrots and sticks – this only creates compliance, as soon as the pressure to conform is reduced the individual will revert to their original attitudes and behaviours;
  2. Peer pressure – creating the necessary peer pressure to get the individual to change their attitude to that which is wanted; this is dependent, however, on the peer pressure being aligned with that of the business;
  3. Alignment with Self-Interests – by aligning the interests of the individual with those of the business, the individual willingly changes their attitudes and behavior to those required by the organization.  This is the only sustainable way of engaging people and getting them to change their attitude and behaviors.

So What to Do?

You can only effectively influence people’s aptitude, not their attitude.  As managers and leaders we can train people to help them improve; we can manage performance, but we cannot, nor should we, manage behavior.

To help people improve their skills requires understanding their current skills and capabilities, what is needed for them to perform well, the current gap between the two and what the priorities are.

To improve people’s attitudes needs the individual to change.  We can help provide a suitably motivating environment to encourage people to change, but we cannot make them change.


Help people develop their skills, help them to change themselves.  But do not allow those with the wrong attitudes stay where they are, especially if they refuse to change.  In these cases you have three options – Train, Transfer or Terminate.

  • Train them in how they can change themselves;
  • Transfer them to another position where their attitudes and behavior may be a better fit; or
  • Terminate them – you are probably doing them a kindness, as well as yourself, by taking them out of a position where they are unhappy and giving them the opportunity to find somewhere else that suits them better.

Be clear on what attitudes and aptitudes you want in your business, and what you want your employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Mark up where you see your staff on the matrix and identify if they need to improve their attitude or their aptitude, the priorities, and focus on them.  Remember, it is your employees’ attitudes that are a predictor of their success – not their aptitude – and their success is a predictor of yours.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)