Great leadership requires a special type of person. Unfortunately, there's no test that can establish conclusively who has the "stuff" to be a leader, and who doesn't. Many employers struggle greatly to identify both what those characteristics are, and who has them.
YPO member Pablo Sardi faced the same struggle as other employers, and has an developed organized method of determining a candidate's capability for leadership. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in business management, Sardi began his career as a futures trader. Soon, however, he returned home to Colombia to run the family furniture business, Crusardi. When he began, Crusardi had only one location. Sardi convinced BoConcept that the region was ripe for high-end furniture, and he grew Crusardi into 8 locations all around Latin America selling BoConcept furniture. Eventually, Crusardi became the top franchisee of BoConceptsWorld. Crusardi is also the #1 supplier of high-end furniture in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru. Remarkably, Crusardi was named the Best Exporter of Danish Brands in the World by Prince Henrik of Denmark.
On an episode of my podcast 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Sardi explains how he identifies young people with the potential to be good leaders:
1. What have I done so far?
Sardi is all about honest self-analysis. He believes that good leaders ask serious questions of themselves on a regular basis. He shares, "My personal question is, 'Have I been good enough in life?' And that's something that I ask myself every single night." When hiring, he looks for people who ask themselves that same question in their own lives. "We try to get that special person, that entrepreneurial person, that's inside everyone," he explains of Crusardi's hiring process.
2. What can I do better?
Beyond analyzing what one has done so far, leaders must examine how they can improve. Sardi asks himself, "Am I good enough? How can I use time? If I die tomorrow, will I be proud of what I have done?" He believes this forward-looking perspective is critical to business leadership. "One of the main things we teach is how to be self-critical and how to understand one's self and other people, and how to reinvent one's self every single day," he says. Sardi believes a willingness for this kind of honesty is where the best business ideas are born: "Great ideas come from personal insight," he asserts. Without this confidence and candor, your company is at risk of stagnating.
3. What is my motivation?
Sardi believes that everyone has the potential to be a leader, but just having the skills isn't enough. They need to want it, too, and be willing to put in the work. "I believe everyone has the capabilities to be a leader," he says. But he continues, "However I don't think everyone is interested or asking the right questions in order to have the motivation to be a leader." For Sardi, the desire to live up to ones potential and seek excellence is never far from the top of a leader's mind.
4. Am I consistent in my thoughts, words, and actions?
Consistency is at the heart of what Sardi does. "One of my core values is coherence between what you say, how you act, and what you think," he explains. It's a personal belief that has found its way to the center of his company as well. "I believe that culture is the main asset that one has for success," Sardi says, and Crusardi's culture is reflective of his ideas. He proudly shares, "A lot of people from university want to work with us. Which is not regular, because a salesperson in retail is not what a lot of people want to be." In his ongoing desire for improvement, he constantly seeks feedback. He explains, "In the office, the first question I ask people is, 'If you had my role, what would you do?'" Listening with openness is a manifestation of his beliefs and an example to his team.
On Fridays, Kevin explores industry trends, professional development, best practices, and other leadership topics with CEOs from around the world.