Leading with passion Featured

7:00pm EDT February 24, 2008
Craig Drablos wishes it were as easy as sitting down and talking to someone, but finding people with passion goes beyond a simple discussion. Drablos says he learned this lesson after years of conversations with potential hires who demonstrated passion and drive but didn’t live up to expectations. And if he had continued to base his hiring decisions solely on candidate interviews, Drablos says, he would have made several more wrong hires as southeast commercial operations CEO at Humana Inc., a $24.6 billion health insurance company based in Louisville, Ky.

The key to hiring the right person is talking to others who know the potential employee in the real world. That doesn’t necessarily mean his or her references, but people in your business, says Drablos, who oversees more than 200 employees.

People can become proficient at interviewing, so you have to use several touch points to understand an individual, Drablos says.

Smart Business spoke with Drablos about how to show your employees that you’re passionate about the business and how to communicate your vision.

Show your passion. You’ve got to have a passion about what you do. If you don’t, people will not follow you.

Just try to be yourself. If you can’t be yourself and demonstrate that passion, employees are smart; they’re going to realize it is fake. You’ve got to have a drive for results, a drive for accountability; you show it through your actions every single day. Employees see what you do, and they also see what you don’t do.

You’re constantly watched. Just realize that. You’re on stage, and you’ve got to show it every day.

Any company that doesn’t have a passion will be satisfied with the status quo; they will not want change. In any environment, whether it’s our industry or other industries, there’s change, constant change, and you need passionate people to kind of take you to that next level.

Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in your existing stage. If you think about it, over time, companies that stay stuck in one existing stage typically go out of business if they’re not changing.

Communicate your vision clearly. You’ve got to have a clear vision so people know where you want to go and set themselves up to literally understand where to go and how to track that.

If you look at communication and the vision, there is communication overall that takes clear, concise, specific and periodic communication.

It’s got to be reinforced multiple times for it to take hold. It’s got to be reinforced on many different levels. You’ve got to be very concise.

This is something that can’t change and waver. So, if you are saying something today and I come out tomorrow and say something different ... and in three weeks come out and say something different, I am going to have a confused team. So, I’ve got to make sure I am clear and consistent and kind of repetitive over time with that vision. That’s something that should not change dramatically over a long period of time.

Encourage open dialogue. Really appreciate that fact that people express themselves and if they have concerns about the change or concerns about the direction we’re going. It puts the onus on me to justify and explain it or our team to justify and explain why we’re going in a certain direction.

At some point, you just have a difference of an opinion or a difference of philosophy. Depending on the project, you may need to part ways. You have to have one way you’re running, and if somebody does-n’t agree that’s the best way to run, that can lend confusion to the rest of the team or to the part of the team they are leading or to the marketplace itself, which is not good for the brand.

In my mind, you get better results, better answers. Everybody comes into a meeting with an area of expertise, an area of their own experiences. If you have open dialogue and you can draw on ... your background or whatever it might be, you can really lay out all the various facets and understand the underlying issues. Whether it’s a problem, a plan or whatever it might be, I think you come to a better solution that way.

If, for example, I just went into a meeting and said we’re going to do it this way, we can talk about it, but, at the end of the night, we are just going to do it this way, period, well, that’s strictly my way, drawing strictly on my experiences, drawing strictly on what I know, which is probably going to be wrong.

Listen to all sides of a story.There’s personnel situations where I had somebody tell me a story, a very compelling story, and I reacted saying that’s 100 percent of all the facts and made a poor decision later to find out these pieces of information were missing, put some justification around it, and then had to go back and apologize.

We learn from our mistakes. As long as we learn from them, it’s a good thing.

If I am hearing somebody saying one thing and somebody saying something else, I’ll say, ‘Let’s bring them both in the room.’ Or if they are saying something about somebody who is across the country, let’s get them on the phone, let’s talk about it. It’s amazing when you do that you find out what is really accurate and what has been embellished.>

HOW TO REACH: Humana Inc., (813) 286-8829 or www.humana.com