“That Spark”

Terri Davis magazine

There is a spark to people. We’ve all felt it. We know people who have it. Some of us are told by others we have it. Sometimes we call it charisma, presence, or character, a character you can feel. Where does it come from, and why do some people have more of it than others?

In my over 20 years of executive and professional recruiting, I have interviewed and followed up references on thousands of job candidates, exposing me to people from all backgrounds. The candidates I choose to put forward to final interview always have the skill-sets required, but they also have that other thing, character. And it’s something you can feel.

A bigger-than-life personality doesn’t mean the loudest person in the room or the most extroverted. There is such a thing as quiet power in people, too. So-called introverted personalities might display this more than extroverts, but we have all met someone who has a reserve of inner strength that comes through in what they say, how they say it, and how they make you feel being around them. These people are natural leaders, they have “that spark” that attracts others to them.

Everyone I’ve met who has that spark has one thing in common, regardless of differences in backgrounds, experiences, and executive or professional job level: it’s the consistency with which they elevate the people around them, under them, and above them. They are, and always have been, individuals with impeccable integrity, and integrity cannot be faked. Integrity is an energy like all character traits, good or bad. A great book on this subject of emotional resonance is called Power vs Force which shows how power is more powerful than force, it resides within, and power comes through choosing positive resonance, with emotions like empathy resonating at a higher level than, say, fear. Research in Japan with crystal formations reacting to words and music shows that even at the most basic natural level, the universe from which we are made and are a part of, takes us higher when we choose the higher values for ourselves.

When I do reference checks on prospects, I love to hear these magic words: “I’d work for her or him again in a heartbeat, no hesitation.” Now you might argue that everyone tries to give their best reference, they might even coach that reference in advance. Granted. And you’d be right, at least in some cases. Over two decades I have learned to distinguish between the real and the fake. Despite my own intuition and experience, what’s ultimately most interesting to me is this: The candidates I feel have the most to offer an organization are also invariably the candidates my clients also love best. They feel the same energy from candidates, that special quality no one can really put their finger on. They just have it, all things being equal. It never comes down to technical skill. It comes down to being attracted to the inner qualities of that candidate, as those qualities and values can be seen in their actions. These seem to be the candidates who always move ahead.

Leadership comes from within. There is no way around that. Leadership is built over time until it becomes character, the way you are, the way others see you, and probably what makes people say things like “She’s the best manager I ever had”; “He just has a way with people”; “They just have something the others don’t”; “He really cares about his people”. These are just some of the way’s leadership is described back to me by people who have experienced these prospective candidates. They care about the success of everyone around them, because they know their success, their greatness, their strength is measured by how successful they make others. And it shows.

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