Recently I wrote an article about “how to hire candidates with creative initiative.” The following anecdote from Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook is a great example of this. It’s also a great example of one of the most important people skills: The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand what they need from you.
The vast majority of people think about an issue only from their own perspective and are shocked when the other person doesn’t see it the same way. Any time you want something from someone you must first ask “What is in it for them”? This shows the magic that can result:
When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I kind of knew of her socially. And she called me and said, ‘I want to talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook. So I thought about calling you,’ she said, ‘and telling you all the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that. So instead, I want to know, what’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it?’
“My jaw hit the floor. I’d hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that. Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Laurie’s case. I said, ‘you’re hired.’
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
From a 2012 speech to the graduating class at Harvard Business School, via Business Insider