The Importance of Leadership for Recruiters

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Leadership plays an important part in the success of any organisation. Leadership is the willingness to take ownership of the organisation combined with an intrinsic urge to do what is best for the organisation. When it comes to recruitment, it’s fundamental that we start educating our leaders on how to lead effectively because as we all know, it all starts at the top. Resilience, confidence, the ability to withstand ambiguity and change, creativity, productivity, engagement, staff retention and of course, the bottom line…are all either heightened or flattened by the quality of leadership.

We had a chat with Dannielle Haig, Director and Business Psychologist at DH Coaching & Consulting to chat about the importance of leadership in recruitment using her work with AVA as a case study

Introduce Yourself and what you do.

Hi there, my name is Dannielle Haig and I am a Business Psychologist, Business Coach and the Director of a London based boutique Consultancy specialising in Leadership development called DH Consulting where we are business focused yet human-centred.

Why do you think leadership is important?

Leadership is fundamental in all organisations for a multitude of reasons; I personally break this down in two categories. Firstly, an organisation requires Leaders to act as conduits of their values and as propellers towards their shared goals. Secondly, people need Leaders to guide them and provide them with support so that they can thrive.

Good leadership creates a psychological support net around teams so that they can confidently push out of their comfort zones and be inspired to achieve.

How can Leaders improve in their role?

The concept of “Leadership” is an interesting one because it requires a lot; first and foremost, an understanding of the job at hand but also a knowledge of humans. It doesn’t stop there however, as one then has to learn how to display and apply this knowledge which is the most crucial element of Leadership training…how often do we know things but not actually action them e.g. think about smoking or exercising, people have the knowledge but don’t execute a change in behaviours even when their health relies upon it.

Good leadership requires an incredible sense of self, strong self-confidence combined with genuine empathy for others. This can all sound daunting, however, what you might not know is that Leadership is a learnt skill, it’s not something that you are just born with (of course some people might be) and it can be developed with the right attitude and crucially, the right training.

Therefore, hiring Leadership Development specialists is considered a high-impact investment for your organisation as it is a science and when executed the ROI is substantial.

Who do you think are the best leaders?

This question is a big one as it has slight differences across industries but, I would say there are self-awareness, enough confidence to know themselves and enough confidence to adapt and adjust where necessary. They, therefore, measured in their reactions and are not led by their emotions but by rational thoughts.

The best leaders are those who know their emotions and therefore have empathy for others. They can connect in an authentic manner with their team; they are human. The best leaders are honest and open, they are do not lead with fear. They lead from example and do not ask of others what they are not prepared to do themselves.

The best leaders genuinely want to lead and care about the development of others and therefore recognise that spending time with their teams, educating them, supporting them, mentoring them, giving them space to try, pushing them out of their comfort zones is a fundamental part of their role and not something that is an annoyance, or something that can be put at the bottom of their to-do-lists.

Are there any leadership books that you can recommend and why?

I get asked this question regularly and the answer is no. This is probably quite surprising, but I do not believe in reading other people’s stories and trying to replicate them. Everyone is unique and needs to understand themselves well enough to know where they are falling short or where they need a little more knowledge and also where their strengths lie.

I recommend other kinds of reading. I recommend learning about humans and humanity generally, I read a lot of books on anthropology, learning where we came from and why we are the way we are. A very good and easy book to kick off this journey would be Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens for example. I personally also like to read about astrophysics (currently only to a truly basic level) to bring everything into perspective. We must not take ourselves too seriously and for me; the insignificance gives significance.

I am also a keen reader of philosophy either contemporary with the likes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, through to the 19th century with Nietzsche and then, of course, the work of the Founders with Plato, Socrates, Epictetus, Seneca the Younger and so on.

By broadening our understanding of the world and our place in it, we come to know ourselves and naturally as we are more curious, we become better leaders.

What is your daily routine to ensure you can coach and lead leaders?

My days are extremely varied due to the nature of my work however, there are consistencies in my admin and how I manage my energy levels throughout the day to maximise my output. I am hugely creative and alert early in the morning and make sure maximise that time by waking up early and straight to my desk. I always plan my day the night before so I can put work away and enjoy my Recovery time in the evening, which is fundamental for stress management and to ensure no impending burnout.

My work is incredibly cerebral and if not executed and monitored properly, it can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. To ensure that I am always emotionally balanced for myself and my clients, I follow the BPS guidelines. This means that I have my own Coach, therapist and also a supervisor; all very expensive and time consuming but it is a worthy investment for my own mental health as well as ensuring I carry out my best work for my clients. To prepare for these sessions I write a lot of notes and journal every day.

To ensure that I am always at the top of my profession I am always educating myself, with 10-years of the university under my belt, I am about to head back for a further 4 years for my PhD. I regularly attend lectures and conferences to ensure I am up to date with the latest research and I am a member of the BPS and other associations who provide an abundance of resource to keep on top of. It is a daily job to ensure that one is always up to speed with research!

As a consultant in business, I have to be aware of current affairs and business updates so whilst I have my first-morning coffee, you will normally find me reading the news.

When it comes to recruitment, how does leadership come to play?

I have worked with (and for) a lot of recruitment companies, including two and half years of Coaching with AVA, and I have come to understand the industry quite well. Good leadership is fundamental to a successful recruitment team and yet only a handful of organisations, such as AVA, provide Leadership development. In a sales-based environment, careers are built on an individual’s ability to sell and not their ability to lead others. Consequently, those who are incredible recruiters are suddenly launched into the world of leadership, quite often at a young age, and then struggle to balance their time and focus between recruiting and leading.

It is fundamental that we start educating our leaders on how to lead effectively because as we all know, it all starts at the top. Resilience, confidence, the ability to withstand ambiguity and change, creativity, productivity, engagement, staff retention and of course, the bottom line…are all either heightened or flattened by the quality of leadership. Don’t get me wrong, this is universal and not specific to this industry, however, recruitment tends to have a high turnover of staff, 43% annually compared to a 15% average rate, which is expensive and disruptive; and we all know that people tend to leave toxic cultures and poor management, not the role itself.

How are you working with AVA to develop leaders?

At AVA we are implementing one of my favourite and most successful leadership strategies. By incorporating AVA’s values and mission, we are bringing to life a consistent and thorough development programme for all members of leadership and future leadership including the MD and CEO. I am doing this to ensure that all levels of management are aligned with regards to their Leadership behaviours. This level of consistency creates psychological safety for everyone in the organisation which leads to a culture of greater productivity, honesty, creativity, and heightened engagement.

How do you think this is important to accelerate AVA’s growth?

Recruitment and sales-based jobs require a level of confidence, creativity, and resilience to withstand the inherent setbacks. By creating a confident, resilient, and consistent leadership team, this will spread through the teams thereby improving their performance which will increase sales and in turn, accelerate AVA’s growth.

What is the most exciting part of working with AVA?

I love working with the fast-paced and agile nature of AVA. I’ve been working with you guys for almost three years and seen a lot of growth and development within the organisation, a curiosity to learn and a deep desire to be the best.

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