NOT BETTER, NOT WORSE—
“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one
that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
I will never forget the day I came across my first leaderless team.
In my days as a Vice President/Director of Talent Acquisition at Leo Burnett, I was in charge of recruiting at all levels, but my main focus was entry-level candidates. I had the pleasure of reading more than 10,000 student resumes and interviewing more than 1,000 collegians. One of the standard interview questions I asked was, “Tell me about a group project you worked on in college.” I used this question when hiring for the account management department because a huge part of the job was working with diverse groups within the company. We wanted to hire people who had the ability to manage projects and lead teams.
I was seeking candidates who said that they took the role of leader within the group. I would then probe them about their ability to work on diverse teams, handle conflict effectively, and drive results for the group. I must have posed this question hundreds of times in my quest to find the best candidates.
I still remember the day it all changed. It was in the spring of 2001, and I was interviewing a student from Princeton. I asked my standard