If you read my last blog post, you are aware that we just finished reading Linchpin as part of our book club at SIGMA. One of the things that struck me was how closely correlated Linchpins and A-players are.
At SIGMA, we use Topgrading as our recruiting process and several questions get to the heart of what a Linchpin is. First and foremost, the structure of the interview is behavioral-based – candidates must provide real examples, situations that demonstrate responses to the questions. You can see and hear passion in the responses. You can identify if candidates pour themselves into what they do, what they give – if they exert emotional labor. If they are change agents, if they give gifts for the anticipation of progress, improvement, and momentum these are good indications that they are both A-players and Linchpins.
According to Seth Godin, there are seven abilities needed to be a linchpin:
- Providing a unique interface between members of the organization
- Delivering unique creativity
- Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
- Leading customers
- Inspiring staff
- Providing deep domain knowledge
- Possessing a unique talent
Looking over the Topgrading questions that we use, a few struck me as extremely relevant to this correlation:
- What will references say are your style and overall effectiveness in “sorting” the wheat from the chaff?
- How creative are you? What are the best examples of your creativity in process, systems, methods, products, structures, or services?
- What are the biggest risks you have taken in recent years? Include those that worked out well and not so well.
- What are the most important lessons that you have learned in your career?
- When was the last time you missed a significant deadline?
- Have you significantly raised the bar for yourself or others? Explain how you did it – your approach, the problems encountered and the outcomes.
- Tell me about accountability. What happens when people fail to perform?
- In what ways have you changed an organization the most (in terms of direction, results, policies)?
- Are you a natural leader? Cite indications.
- Describe a situation in which you actively tore down walls or barriers to teamwork.
When you are comfortable that candidates have demonstrated the capabilities of keeping the lizard brain at bay, sprinting, exerting emotional labor and giving gifts, and shipping from Linchpin—and with perseverance, creativity, passion and accountability from Topgrading—you are sure to have found an A-Player and a Linchpin.