I'm a tough customer when it comes to recognizing leaders in our industry. We all have our personal opinions on who is good and who is blowing a bunch of hot air. I don't take much at face value. I am sure there's some kind of personality assessment that will assign some animal or color to this trait; if people want me to think they know their stuff, they have to prove it to me. They should feel like they have to prove it to everyone else too.
I definitely think that people are too willing to assign the descriptor "industry leader" to those in the staffing space who have a platform. I've heard people describe me that way a time or two and it made me uncomfortable. In the words of Charles Barkley "I'm not a role model". I'm just someone who is passionate about what they do, has some good ideas and takes a risk every once in a while. I know a number of people like that.
Then there are the others in the industry that spend a little too much doing their Zoolander look in the mirror. All posing and lots of blah, blah, blah buzzwords. "Love me....adore me...call me a leader". I'm not into that stuff. I'm not trying to call anyone out. We can all do a little introspection and determine whether we have those moments and whether we are maybe trying a litle too hard to sell ourselves as leaders in the industry.
Anyway, the people that I see as true leaders are those that raise the bar in this profession; either by example or in an advisory capacity. I have a minor talent for uncovering the hidden pitfalls in an idea or a program (it's not being negative...it's getting past roadblocks...seriously!) and admire others that can do that and then articulately counsel on a plan of attack (I'm not as skilled in the latter than the former). I want to be more like them and I want to spend as much time with them as possible soaking up every bit of information that they are willing to share.
For me, two of those people have been Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin and I get to introduce them Wednesday at our (Microsoft's) International Staffing Summit (whee!). They have acted as godfathers to me in helping me manage my career when this blogging thing took off and people started to know who I am/was/whatever (not that it's that big of a deal, but it did change how I thought about my career). They don't know everything to know about staffing but they know everyone you need to know to find out anything about staffing (got that?) and that's cool. They are the kind of people you can call and ask "Am I crazy for thinking this?" and they will actually tell you if you are. No side stepping with them...don't ask if you don't want to know.
I'm writing down what I am going to say when I introduce them and it started me thinking why I admire them so much and how excited I am that my peers get to hear from them as well. Our summit is taking place throughout the week and it will be great to have all of staffing (worldwide) together. If I have any epiphanies, I'll let you know.