There are many things we look for in key staff. Some of those things are obvious such as whether someone can do their job or whether they have the needed expertise, or whether or not they fit in our culture. 

The best leaders and staff have another set of common characteristics as well. We don't always think a lot about these but as you will see, they are powerful personal characteristics.

One: They are evangelists for the cause they represent - they don't just buy in, they live the mission. There is a difference between believing in a vision or mission and being an evangelist for it. The former is a given but the latter attitude is one that brings others into the work of the organization with energy and enthusiasm. Evangelists sell the vision and mission to everyone around them in an infectious way. They embody the cause and live the cause in ways that other's don't. To be around them is to be influenced by their passion.

Two: They believe that great things can happen - they think big. There is a difference between those that believe something can happen through their efforts and those who believe big things can happen. Your best staff don't dream small dreams but they dream big dreams. They may start small but their vision is large because they want to see the organization accomplish big things. Too many staff are easily satisfied with the status quo and too few believe that much more is possible.

Three: They are optimistic and realistic at the same time - they see what can be and what is. You might think in light of the last characteristic that the best staff members live in an unrealistic world. That could not be further from the truth. They live with both optimism and reality in equal measure. They are highly realistic about what is but they also believe that with leverage, the right people and the right strategies, much more is possible. And, they are realistic about how they can get added momentum and what it will take.

Four: They have an action bias - they get stuff done. Your best staff are not dreamers but doers. They have the ability to get things done because they have a bias toward action. They think strategically but are always doing something to move the ball forward. The status quo is where one may be today but it won't be where one is tomorrow. Change, innovation, new ideas and new strategies are a part of their everyday focus. This is why the best staff will only work in highly empowered organizations where they have the permission to act, to try new things and to experiment with new strategies.

Five: They believe it takes a team - they develop a highly synergistic team. Your best staff are not lone rangers - no matter how brilliant they are. Rather, they believe in team and are always working synergistically with others toward agreed upon goals. Too often we hire brilliant people but don't ensure that they work well with teams. It is in team that the best ideas are generated and the best momentum and leverage happens. Teams multiply the power of any one individual in a quantum way.

Six: They empower and release - they give away opportunity liberally. Those who control others also "control forward progress" because they don't release others to do what they can do well. Momentum comes when progress is being driven by multiple individuals who are empowered and released. Staff who control rather than empower hurt the individuals they control and they hurt the organization's forward momentum.

Seven: They always leave the organization better than they found it - they improve continuously. A sign of a great staff member is one who is always committed to helping the organization get better. This is not about creating a better space for themselves but a better space for the organization as a whole. When thinking about their job they are always thinking about the organization as a whole and seeking to make it better.

Obviously we should look for these characteristics in staff we hire but we should also be training our current staff to live out these commitments.

  • Jul 13, 2021
  • Category: News
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