Amber Hurdle is a career branding professional, journalist, and marketing team lead whose wealth of experience has helped individuals from around the world grasp the importance of honing in on their strengths and bubble wrapping their weaknesses.

In this episode of the Supermanagers podcast, Amber Hurdle talks about removing bias in hiring, the “Velvet Machete” approach to leadership, and making decisions based on data that can be derived from personality assessments. 

Listen to this episode (or read the transcript below) to learn about the importance of defining who you are and identifying your talents. 

1 What is Velvet Machete leadership? 

Velvet machete began as a nickname a client gave me because I was straight to the point and gave him a ruthless answer. It later evolved and became intertwined with my leadership style which is to be direct and cut to the chase. The machete cuts to the chase, and the velvet wraps the message in a way that resonates with the intended audience. 

2 Who has been your most memorable boss? 

I would say that the most memorable boss I’ve ever had was Pete Wion. The thing that I appreciate most about him is that he really saw me for who I was and recognized what I was capable of. 

3 What did he do to gain that level of understanding? 

You first have to become self-aware. That’s why my machete leadership five step program begins with personal branding. You have to be able to clearly define and position your value and Pete knew what he brought to the table. He was able to harvest greatness in others because he understood how he was able to lead people. If you don’t recognize things in yourself how are you going to see it in other people, right? 

4 Can you tell us more about personality assessments? 

I love personality assessments because it helps you fast track self-discovery and awareness and a self-aware leader is very powerful because when you recognize characteristics in yourself you can begin to identify other people’s strengths. 

I hate talking about weaknesses, I’m not weak, you’re not weak, we just have less helpful areas of our personality that just don’t help outcomes that we’re looking for. So like fine china, we have to bubble wrap those — just put some processes or some people around it in order to make sure that that’s protected. But we have to understand ourselves first. 

So the first thing you have to understand is, what is the outcome that I want? What is it that I’m trying to learn about myself? The enneagram is used by a lot of psychologists and a lot of life coaches and the reason why is, the enneagram blows up the areas where we really have vulnerabilities. 

Enneagrams are about understanding and relating to your fears. The second assessment I use is the predictive index. The predictive index determines what your innate needs are as a professional in a work environment. And then it evaluates how those needs drive your behavior. 

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5 Can you explain how psychometrics are used for hiring? 

I like to use psychoanalytic tools because there’s not a lot of margin for error and it eliminates bias. You’re not looking at names or gender and you’re being presented with a behavioural profile that you can use to determine if they would be suited for the job. 

6 What are some of the root causes of not being able to lead with authority?

The number one thing is not going to university and taking the time to understand yourself. It’s important to put things on pause and ask questions like how do you specifically add value? What is the unique thing that you bring to the table in support of the organization or operation goals? And how do you add value to your team? After you’ve asked yourself these questions it’s important to create systems and structures that support your efforts. 

7 How do you deal with leaders who tend to dictate versus inspire? 

Dictating barely gets by and if the people that are on your team don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing they aren’t bought into it. If they don’t understand how they’re unique contributions fit into the bigger picture they aren’t going to show up at their best. 

People jump out of bed and go to work in the morning because they want to go on vacation and pay their mortgage and electric bill and they get to do that every day by using their gifts and doing what they were put on this planet to do. It’s important to be able to harness that and then apply it to whatever mission you’re on. 

8 Have you always been a great public speaker? 

My dad is a professional drummer who traveled all around the world, so it was always really normal for me to be on stage and behind the scenes. And if you look at all of my different assessments or my birth chart communication is the key thing that I offer so being able to communicate with the masses seems like the most helpful way to use my gift. It hasn’t always been super easy, but it feels natural and I feel very safe on stage. 

9 Do you have any words of wisdom or resources to help managers that are looking to get better at their craft?

One thing I say all the time is to go to university. One thing that you can control is how you position yourself to attract the right people and the right opportunities. 

You can also go to my website at amberhurdle.com or check out my YouTube videos. One thing that I always suggest to people without going through my whole course is to check out their Facebook or LinkedIn and determine what the one thing is that they undervalue about themselves. The second thing I want people to consider is what is the one thing that they stopped doing, thinking, or feeling to fit in junior high.