…To democratize the hiring process. A truly unbiased process ensures you have the most diverse workforce. Technology can help us focus so we are only looking at job-related criteria, nothing else. That way you can make sure you are looking at how natural cognitive abilities and personality traits contribute to job success. Imagine how that will create opportunities for people who have been disenfranchised from great opportunities?
I had the pleasure to interview Denise Leaser. Denise is President of GreatBizTools, one of the world’s leading assessment companies. With products like WebAssess and MyInnerGenius, GreatBizTools is an assessment company that has a mission to help change people’s lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Denise! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me! I’m excited to be here. I didn’t have a straight line from my education to my career path. After college, I started out in management and executive positions. Then my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I reevaluated a lot of things in my life, including my career. I worked with a lot of people who were unhappy. They were in the wrong jobs. I thought to myself, “This is an area where I can make a difference.” I went back to school and changed to a career in HR. My work in management gave me the practical experience to develop HR products that people will actually use and provide real results.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Well, it’s actually a sad story, but one that everyone can relate to. I am friends with a former CHRO of a major IT company and he was telling me about a star employee they had hired. The employee was so excited to work there, came in early and left late. He was totally devoted to his job as a sales rep and was highly motivated and engaged. But he was terrible at sales. So, they fired him. Can you imagine? They had no way to properly assess his value for other roles in the company. That story stuck with me and led me to focus on a solution. That resulted in MyInnerGenius.
MyInnerGenius helps people identify careers they will love, then creates roadmaps to get them there. Too many people are in the wrong careers and don’t realize they are within reach of a better job. Most just need a few skills. Others don’t even know where to begin. We created MyInnerGenius by reverse-engineering our job fit tests to create a single assessment that will help people identify dream career roles that match their innate skills and personalities. How great is that?
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have two daughters, so I work from home as much as I can. We had gotten my daughter a young parrot for her birthday. A few months ago, I was on a web conference and was not on mute. In the background, Rudy started talking to me, saying “Whatcha doin’?” followed by “I love you” and whistles. I was dying on the call, but since no one said anything, I was just hoping it was okay. At the end of the call, someone paused and asked, “Is that a bird?” We ended up laughing about it, but it was pretty embarrassing. So, no talking parrots in the office.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are a lot of assessment companies out there and there are a lot of assessments. We focus on science-based, unbiased assessments that are developed with a team consisting of business, HR, industrial psychology and psychometrics experts. Our tools can help an organization truly build a diverse, inclusive workforce because we focus on skills, abilities and personalities, not on the historical data shown in a resume.
And we conduct validation studies to measure the benefits. That means that our tools really work, provide real bottom line results and are easy to use and address real business problems.
We also want to focus on helping people, not only businesses. We are working on an initiative with IBM right now to help people get started in a new career in IT. People can use MyInnerGenius free and align their career recommendations to IBM training. This allows people to get meaningful, actionable results so they can get started in a new career and hit the ground running.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One project I’m really excited about is a project with TinSmartSocial in the UK. They have been commissioned by the UK government to provide training for the chronically unemployed. MyInnerGenius will be used to make sure we are aligning people to the roles that are the best fit for their cognitive abilities and personality traits, regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances. I’m really excited about helping the chronically unemployed find a way to a better life.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Support your team. Let the buck stop with you. Good leaders trust their team and let them fail. And be authentic. Nothing is worse than having employees wondering what you are thinking. It’s demotivating and it stalls productivity. And now, the hard one: solicit feedback on your performance. Everybody wants praise, and nobody likes criticism. But criticism will lead to praise if you take it to heart.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
First, learn how to delegate or you will burn out fast. When you empower your managers and teams to make decisions, they will be much more highly motivated. Second, learn how to communicate. Poor communication creates churn and anxiety in an organization. Over-communication is better than silent whispers in the hall.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Early on, after I made a change of careers, I started working on joint projects with another consultant, Barry Farrell. We worked on many projects together and eventually joined our companies so we were able to grow it to what it is today. Barry is a genius when it comes to assessments and he very kindly taught me everything he knows about assessment. I think everyone needs a mentor, especially someone who is willing to help you go beyond the books to real world application.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have committed my life to creating tools and programs, like WebAssess and MyInnerGenius, that make life better. I have a passion working with young people leaving high school or college who are not sure where to start, military veterans re-entering the civilian workforce, the chronically unemployed, or helping people that have lost jobs due to a technology disruption. Helping people upskill or reskill themselves for the future is about a rewarding as it gets.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Under promise and over deliver. The inverse creates pain for everyone.
2. Give feedback and credit continually. Always make sure you elevate your team by recognizing their accomplishments publicly.
4. Think before talking or acting. Take a breath and don’t be impulsive.
5. Focus on one task and nail it. Don’t get distracted by the next idea. It will wait until you complete the task at hand.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To democratize the hiring process. A truly unbiased process ensures you have the most diverse workforce. Technology can help us focus so we are only looking at job-related criteria, nothing else. That way you can make sure you are looking at how natural cognitive abilities and personality traits contribute to job success. Imagine how that will create opportunities for people who have been disenfranchised from great opportunities?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I think, Richard Branson’s, “Employees come first. IF you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” That pretty much says it all for me.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast? or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Other than the aforementioned Richard Branson, I am ready to meet with anyone who wants to help people find their ways to a better life. And I’ll buy breakfast.