Attitude v Aptitude

Aptitude is the about having the ability, talent or competency to do a particular task or job.

Attitude is all about belief, mindset and determination to do a job.

When recruiting we often focus on aptitude, we look for people with the best skills for the job, taking the most highly qualified person.

In annual reviews when assessing people there is often a focus on ability, technical or managerial, or on potential as well as on performance.

Here again the focus can often be on aptitude.

After years of delivering large complex change programs if there is one thing that I have learnt it’s that it’s actually attitude, which drive things to completion.

It’s determination, that never say die attitude, which often sees us overcome complex technical problems that experts struggled to solve.

We often see in sports, that it’s not always the most talented player that wins.

Often it’s the most determined, the player with the most heart, the most commitment that often overcomes a more talented opponent.

Today when I look for staff, my primary focus is on attitude, not aptitude.

If I have someone with the right attitude I can always work to give them the aptitude, i.e. the skills, to do the job.

It’s much harder to give some one the right attitude, no matter how much of an expert they might be.

There’s a well know saying, “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”.

If you have someone with the right attitude then you will definitely get the 99% perspiration, at which point you’re only looking for 1% inspiration, in order to achieve the genius, or success.

It is great if you can get someone with the both the right aptitude and the right attitude, but if that’s not possible, then I will take attitude every time.

When it comes to Leadership, I think this differentiation is even more important.

Leaders set the culture for their organization, the tone, and a lack of attitude here, will foster a lack of attitude in the entire organization.

So if you want your organization to be successful, then you need to make sure you pick the leader with the right attitude, so they can set the right attitude across the whole organization.

Remember, as the saying goes, “It’s attitude, not aptitude, which determines altitude”.