4 Practical Steps to Stop Following & Start Leading

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a recruiter mutter “seat at the table” or a recruiting leader whine about not feeling respected, I’d have enough money to buy Facebook. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but the point remains.

There are (literally) hundreds of articles and blogs that spew things like, “How HR Can get a Seat at the Strategic Table” or “Transforming Recruiters into Recruiting Business Partners.” Most (yes, most) of these well-intentioned articles are absolutely ridiculous. They provide no practical advice. No actionable next steps. It’s all philosophical garbage like “build better alignment” and “deliver the best talent possible.” Useless dribble infested with buzzwords that our industry so lamely relies on.

Here’s some honesty: The majority of recruiting organizations are not delivering. Want a little more honesty? If you have to ask for a seat at the table, you haven’t earned it, pal.

Yes, there are leadership groups that don’t value the role of HR, let alone recruiting as a discipline within HR. So, what? Are you going to wander through life clinging helplessly to this story you tell yourself? Or are you going to pull yourself up and figure out a way to provide value to the leaders you so desperately pine after?

Let’s switch gears for a second

Last week I was with a client. She was the head of TA for a large publicly-held organization. I was genuinely shocked at how frustrated she was with her boss, the CHRO, and the executive team. She didn’t get invited to discussions about the workforce, staffing, people, or the company. She was shunned from just about any conversation with leadership that had any real value.

As I watched her interact with a few members of the leadership team, it became crystal clear why she was ostracized. From the individual recruiters to the global head of TA, everyone deferred to the leader in question. In other words, they willingly framed themselves as servants at the beck-and-call of the leader.

Yeah, yeah. I get that it’s important to respect those in leadership positions. Let’s be real, though. They put their pants on the same way we all do. They’re no more special than the recruiting professional charged with supporting their every move.

Way too many recruiters lack the confidence to engage in real conversations with hiring leads and execs. Why? No one took the time to teach them, that’s why.

If we spent even half of the time perfecting our communication and leadership skills as we did learning new sourcing methods, hell, we could actually make some headway. Look: the average hiring manager already has a poor view of the recruiter. Hiring leaders use terms like, “expense,” “administrative,” and “useless” to describe their recruiters and their leaders. Even if they’ve never met the manager, the majority have a negative disposition based on previous, likely unrelated experiences.

4 Practical Steps to Stop Following & Start Leading

Is all of this hopeless? Absolutely not. As long as you’re ready to truly lead your manager and communicate the same way business leaders communicate, you can turn the tide. You can earn the right to be respected.

Stop whining and start leading. Run down this list, click the links below, and give the videos a watch. Each one gives an actionable explanation coupled with practical applications:

1. Pre-frame the conversation before it occurs [view video].
2. Consult by the following 3 steps: clarify, question, and provide counsel [view video].
3. Communicate using terms and ideas important to the leader: revenue, profit, and customer acquisition.
4. Coach your hiring leaders by using collision as an opportunity; not a downer.

*If you like those videos, watch the complete 12-part series.

As recruiting professionals, we need to begin acting like business professionals. Spend more creating value for the business, and less time asking for value.


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