Sitting down recently with one of my favourite clients to discuss a senior post that he was struggling to find the right person for, it was obvious from the outset that his requirement was both complex and unique. Fine-tuning the parameters until we felt comfortable with what the best-fit person would look like, we were in agreement…. “we want the unicorn, not the donkey”.
What we meant by that, of course, is that we were looking for someone great… not just someone that could do the job well, but someone that would seek to do it better. Someone that would use innovative approaches to solving business challenges and someone that would inspire those around them to adopt similar ways of working.
So, I decided to pose this question to three people that I consider to be “unicorns” in the market, all from different backgrounds, “what do you believe are the defining philosophies of those who wish to go from good to great?” Here’s what they told me:
“I’m Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”
Unicorns believe that if they are not failing regularly, they are not working hard enough. The most successful and the most satisfied people in any profession are those with a growth mindset. Those who believe that their ability to progress is not fixed by their innate talent or IQ. They embrace failure, recognising that it is a necessary and valuable part of the journey towards success. Unicorns are comfortable with their failures but have the resilience, passion and perseverance necessary to not let failure get in the way of their ambitions or success.
“I Am Building The Plane As I Fly It”
Unicorns have a constant thirst for learning, are driven to keep up with the very latest technology and seek out ways to control their development. More and more employers now favour (and actively seek out) people that are taking a driving seat in their own development – continually learning new skills, always wanting to understand what’s coming and how they can get involved in some way. Focusing on your personal and professional development will not only help you to understand what truly makes you happy but also helps you to set and achieve your goals.
“My Relationships Matter”
Unicorns understand that engagement is the most critical component to the successful delivery of any project, programme or activity. People will only respond positively when they are engaged. Honing your stakeholder management skills is paramount to achieving what you want to achieve, in life and in business. Developing relationships results in increased trust. And where there is trust, people work together more easily and effectively. Unicorns invest real time and effort in identifying and building great relationships – while this idea isn’t revolutionary, it is very seldom done well.
So, are unicorns really just a mythical creature belonging only to works of fiction? Well, no… of course not. Every person has the ability to be great, to transform themselves into something inspirational. As my old CEO used to say “it’s simple, it’s just not easy”.
Be the unicorn, not the donkey.