While roaring around the city last week, trying to do a million jobs (yes, slight exaggeration but that was how it felt), I was listening to ABC radio in between various locations and was fascinated by the speaker on the radio. I unfortunately missed the introduction of the speaker but he was talking about hiring slowly and terminating quickly, and went onto various recruitment hints and tips from his perspective and what young people need to do these days to ‘get noticed’ and ‘get hired’. Many things resonated with me but the ‘one’ that really got my attention was his comment that attitude determines altitude, in that it is about the attitude that one approaches their work that determines how high that they can reach.

Long after the radio interview finished, and I finished my jobs, I kept coming back to the quote “Attitude determines Altitude” and connecting it with my recruiting efforts over the years for international schools and tried to find parallels with actual experiences and people that I knew or had employed.

When I was recruiting for schools at Job Fairs, I did not have extensive lines wending their way past other school’s desks and I was often flanked by bigger ‘name’ schools that often had more attractive salary/benefits packages. Despite these minor challenges, I do remember often saying to candidates, ‘it does not matter that you do not have IB experience, I am interested in you as a person, you as a teacher and your teaching capabilities’. I believed, and still believe, that I needed to find the very best teachers (and people) who had the values, right attitude and approach that would fit with the teaching team we had in place. As a School, we could then train them in whatever they needed to learn, for example the IB.

The priority for me, and always has been, the type of person they were together with the quality of their teaching. My questions, through a lot of trial and error over the years, had to therefore unpack and uncover what I had identified I needed to find out – who they were and how they could add value to my teaching team.

Any interview with me (as the Head of the School) was often preceded by a number of interviews (I liked to call them conversations) with other people from my school, emails and a mix of formal and informal reference checks. As much as I was finding out about them, I also encouraged them to ask the ‘warts and all’ type questions about my/our leadership, the school, and living conditions. While they could have asked me these questions, I was not sure that my perspective was the same as someone of a similar age and context. Therefore I usually put them in contact with one of my existing staff members; encouraged them to be honest, but also asked them to try to balance it with the understanding that everyone is different and one person’s experience may not necessarily be the same for someone else.  I wanted all potential teachers to find out as much information about our school, our leadership and living conditions so that they could make informed decisions about whether the school was the right fit for their next career move. Just as we were trying to ascertain their fit to the school, the country and to the teaching team.

So, as I was connecting what I had heard on the radio with my own experience and people that I knew, I also reflected on a book that I have read recently, “Give and Take: A revolutionary approach to success” by Adam Grant. There are a lot of connections between what I heard on the radio with Adam Grant’s research evidence that “while some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.” So, my conclusion was that it is about who you are as a person, your values and your attitude that determines your altitude (success).

Until next time …