White Knights Don’t Exist in Business, Either

Guest blog by Ane Ohm

“When we hire our new sales leader, then we’ll grow.”

“A headhunter will find the right operations leader, then we’ll be more efficient.”

“Let’s bring in that consultant to develop our brand identity.”

You know the White Knight Syndrome, right? It’s waiting for a white knight to ride in and save the day. “I don’t know how to accelerate sales, or run our operations smoothly, or develop our brand… let’s bring in the experts and they’ll make it happen.”

If this is how you’re thinking about your business, you’re probably going to spend a lot of money with poor results. Then you’ll blame the new sales leader, the recruiter, or the consultant, when in fact the problem was you all along.

You’re busy, I get it. I’m busy, too, and it’s so nice to think that an expert can solve my problems. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that completely outsourcing my most important problems does not yield the results I want.

You can’t properly solve a problem without knowing what caused the problem in the first place.

If your sales are suffering, do you know why? Is it poor sales activity, your product, your competitors, or the market itself? Some great sales leaders will deliver a killer sales process, but can’t fix a sub-standard product or deal with an ailing market. How can you hire the right person if you don’t know what you need?

So please, hire a recruiter to help you – they can be a wonderful resource. But think: do you know what you really need (not just want) and does that person exist? Don’t expect recruiters to perform magic tricks. A great recruiter will ask many questions up front about skills, culture, and other top performers in your organization. Stay involved, and if you’re told you have unreasonable expectations, LISTEN.

As with so many things in life, the answer is simple, but not easy. If you don’t know what’s causing your problems, handing them to an outside expert is unlikely yield the results you want. The best experts want your active engagement, anyway.

Prioritize, engage, and be your own white knight.