Surrounding yourself with smart people is a challenging but great way to advance along the leadership path. One facet of discovering those who have conquered challenges we anticipate facing is to find those with a different perspective. The easiest way to do this is to hire someone who is in some way different than you.

The process

Process provides perspective in lieu of panic. When we face challenges, we can rely on process to get us through difficulty one reliable, tested step at a time. Any leader who has faced a potentially devastating situation and worked through it, relying on methods instead of in-the-moment emotional reactions, understands the value of process.

Yet for some reason when we hire, we often miss an important aspect of process in judging candidates: differences. While many of us ask behavioral interview questions that probe for examples and storytelling, we make the mistake of looking for similarities in approach.

We should still look for process and the associated character traits but also for different approaches.

For example, when the candidate explains how he overcame a challenge by breaking it down and progressing in a measured fashion, we determine we like their response because that is how we would do it. However, if the candidate gets to the same conclusion but follows a completely different process, we may reject their approach because it is not one to which we can relate.

Instead of dismissing the candidate when we sense this disconnect, we need to push ourselves to understand the logic of their approach. If it is sound, just different, their thinking can provide valuable perspective diversity to our team.

(Not) the man in the mirror

It can seem impossible to find varied approaches because there is nothing new about our business, industry, product or service. We have been providing legal advice, accounting services, call center support or product expertise for decades in a well-established manner.

If that is the case, it is also all the more reason to find someone who thinks differently: that proverbial new guy who wants to change things just because.

The disruption that diversity of thinking threatens is also what can lead to efficiency, culture shifts and growth. To find, nourish and support it, leaders must actively seek it out. Trying to find someone with a different philosophy, though, is a bit intangible. Instead, when we are stuck in our own way of thinking, we can start by looking for people with different backgrounds than us.

For example, demographic diversity is a tangible difference. In other words, making sure the candidate pool includes people from a different gender, generation, background, geographic region, or training path than us is a simple way to open the door to new approaches.

Practically, we can also include co-workers from those groups in our interview process. Doing so allows us to at least create the opportunity for different perspectives and opinions to come to the fore from both sides of the interview table.

The bottom line is that leaders can create more successful teams by deciding to embrace different perspectives and actively taking steps to find and include those perspectives in the process.