When looking to build your team or begin a collaboration there are 10 factors that I refuse to do without. Experience on the job can be gained, product knowledge can be learned, and resumes are resumes. If I meet someone who has these 10 qualities, I want them on my team. Period. Conversely, they could have a perfect resume, 15 years of experience and glowing recommendations, but lack these 10 qualities, they don’t stand a chance.
1) Synergy-this may be one of my favorite qualities because it is underestimated in terms of formidability against competition and obstacles that may arise. When you have team members who can rise or fall to the ambient level of intensity, energy, etc, there is less time spent over communicating simple things that can slow down efficiency. Synergy can also take a small team and cause it to function like a massive beast.
2) Initiative– there is so much momentum that comes from teams that take initiative to improve processes and get ahead of oncoming problems. You want to build teams that are not merely reactionary but also know how to execute offensive strategies as well. This can also develop from having a sense of ownership. They own the role they have and feel invested in the company and feel like a valuable member of the team.
3) Intuition– I hate to micromanage as much as I hate to be micromanaged. I don’t like to tell my team every thought that they need to think. I love having team members who intuit what needs to be done and moves in that direction. I need team members who instinctively know what is needed because we have the same vision and same goals.
4) Humility-Regardless of what we know, there is always more to learn. I’ve heard it said that the more you know, the more you realize how little you actually know. Humility in a team environment is the awareness that there is more to learn, a desire to develop, a keen sense of your own humanity and everyone else’s and the role it plays within the company and the company’s mission. We may play on different positions within the team, but we all play an integral part and it requires all of us to move the mission forward.
5) Agility-we see it on the football field and in the dance studio. Agility. We have to remain agile in our thinking, execution, planning, development, project management, and team interactions. In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries emphasizes the importance of knowing when to pivot and when to persevere. This quality makes the team member who has it, indispensable.
6) Creativity– when we discuss creativity, that isn’t limited to art and drawing. We need the ability to innovate. Bring new solutions to old or pre-existing systems. This innovative creativity needs to show up in every aspect of your company. Everything from marketing, logistics, manufacturing, budgeting, and of course sales and customer service. You can have the most innovative and creative product but it will remain in the warehouse if you can’t creatively connect it to buyers and overcome challenges to delivery.
7) Empathy– this is a foundational quality that is required. In life and business our purpose is to serve our customers, our communities and even humanity. Your team needs to be able to empathize with each other, the customers you serve and the community you exist within. Empathy is a key component in all truly legendary design.
8) Problem solving acumen– some people have a gift for pointing out problems. That’s ok if they also have an acumen for solving them. We need to develop teams with a penchant for problem solving. I need a team that loves to solve problems as much as I do.
9) Influence– true leadership doesn’t live in titles, it lives in influence. How do others respond to them? What do they do with their influence? Do they use it responsibly, or do they weaponize it?
10) Fear– if they never feel fear you can assume one of three things: a) they are a sociopath b) they never take risks or c) they are pathologically inauthentic. You want someone who feels fear but doesn’t let it dominate them. They do it afraid. They step out of their comfort zone and are willing to take a risk.
These 10 factors change the game on any team. When you strategically scout for these qualities or focus on developing them within your existing team, prior limitations disappear.