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by Vault Consulting Editors | November 23, 2009


Yesterday's New York Times featured an interview with William D. Green, chairman and CEO of Accenture. The theme that runs throughout the interview is the value of hard work. Green, who grew up in a blue-collar family in Massachusetts, was taught from an early age that "what matters is what you're capable of." He casts off appearances, jargon and that professional gloss that so many mistake for concrete ability; instead, Green says he focuses on an individual's (and his own) work ethic.

He applies this line of thinking to the firm's recruiting technique—which it calls "critical behavior interviewing"—and the way it looks for demonstrated behaviors and experiences that illuminate a candidate's value system and work ethic. Specifically, the firm is looking to hire "people who are analytical, and have common sense, good judgment and the ability to get along with other people, because we're in a people business." Green also applies it to the company as a whole. Companies, he says, must not be complacent or satisfied with the status quo. Rather, they must always be looking forward to progress and improve.

"Just when you think all the cylinders are clicking and everything’s right, that’s the time you have to change, because that’s the world we live in now. If you rest, it will cost you, because global competitiveness is here to stay, and it’s not about the traditional competitors anymore. It’s about new and emerging competitors that you’ve never heard of, and you just have to get your mind around the new normal, as they call it."

Finally, Green offers some words of wisdom specifically for new managers, but also for all individuals attempting to navigate modern, impersonal corporate environments. He says that individuals must possess three characteristics: competence, or focusing on the job at hand; confidence so that you can clearly state your point of view; and caring so that you can lead your team to success and create a positive atmosphere for your clients.


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