One of my best hires occurred by chance.
My family was returning to San Diego from Honolulu after Christmas vacation in 2007. I was not returning with them, yet was trying to get them on a flight out of Hickam Air Force Base. As a backup, I had reserved three seats on a United flight out of Honolulu International on a Sunday morning and just happened to meet a very kind and extraordinary United agent. Her name is Carole.
While I worked the back and forth between two airports with three ladies in tow, Carole stepped in with grace and kindness. She gave me her personal cell phone number and told me to stay in touch so she could purchase the United tickets if needed. In the end, they flew home on United and in meeting Carole, an opportunity presented itself.
Carole had always wanted to work for the federal government, yet also wanted to keep her part time job with United. Her amazing kindness and customer service spoke volumes for her character, integrity and why she would make a great employee and team member. About one year later, Carole was accepted into a position as a contract specialist intern in our command.
The lesson for leaders is that talent can be found in many locations and in many circumstances if you are open to it and aware. Yes, a person has to have the basic skills, education and credentials, but I have found that easier to satisfy than the critical need to have a positive attitude, a sense of teamwork, and effective performance. Putting the right person in the right job is one of the many tasks of the leader and you have to be looking for the right person at all times.
I found one such person at a United ticket counter on a Sunday morning.