Pay Attention to the Little Things

   Kasper Rorsted   

As I admitted earlier, I enjoy watching reality television from time to time.  One show in particular came to mind as I read today’s New York Times Corner Office column featuring Kasper Rorsted, CEO of Henkel, the giant Germany-based consumer and industrial products company. 

In every episode of True Beauty, aspiring contestants who pay attention to little details–including greeting and helping others–end up winning the contest.  CEO Rorsted indicates the same is true in landing a job in business.  Here’s how he responds to the question about how he hires: 

“I want to know who you are, who you’ve worked for, what kind of successes you’ve had, what are the failures or missteps in your career.  But what I try to spend a lot of time on is trying to understand the person I’m speaking to. Did you work in an ice cream parlor when you were young?  Do you have sisters?  Do you have brothers?  Why are you now living here? I’m trying to figure out who’s actually behind the person, and what are the value sets that drive you as a person.

“Then I always ask the question, what would you do if you won 10 million bucks?  Would you leave?  Would you retire?  Do you want to do charity work?  Will you stay?

“I never look at grades from university.  I look at what they’ve done, but I look very much at what they’ve done outside work.  How do they spend their time? Who do they relate to?  Have they moved?  Have they been put in situations in their personal and professional lives that were not very straightforward?

“I’m concerned about people who have come through their career with “A” grades throughout their entire life, and have never really had any setbacks and have always been in environments where they knew the environment.

“Also, do they say goodbye and hello to the person who stands in front of the building, and do they say hello to the person who sweeps the floor?  How do they act as a person?  The personal part is, for me, equally important to the professional part.  Because I think you can get a lot of people who are professionally very good, but I think the personal part and the value part are the difference between a good manager or leader and a great leader.”

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