For a leader, there is not a greater responsibility or a more important task than choosing the people who will serve alongside you in fulfilling the mission of the organization or ministry. Great coaches are known for their masterful and careful recruiting, ensuring the potential player fits both the team’s strategy of play and the culture of the organization. In similar fashion effective leaders care deeply about the people they invite to join their teams. They know, as Jim Collins has stated, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
The only time the Bible records Jesus praying all night long was before He chose His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). He had no plan B. He chose to ensure the gospel would spread through the disciples, and He prayerfully selected those who He would hand the mission to.
In my role, I interact daily with leaders and managers who hire people, who invite others to join the teams they lead. I have observed these seven common traits in leaders who hire well, leaders who seem to excel at attracting the right players to their teams.
1. They own the responsibility.
Here is an excerpt from a recent Harvard Business Review article: “When line managers, rather than HR, are responsible for recruiting, performance management, and retention, companies are 29% more successful at those tasks.” The stat from the recent HBR does not surprise me because I find that the best leaders are deeply concerned with the health of their teams. They don’t want to delegate the hiring or the developing to some other area. While they welcome input and feedback from others, they can’t imagine not owning the people strategy.
2. They believe they can get the best.
Those who excel at hiring the right players are so convinced in the mission of their organization, so excited about what they get to do, that they are convinced key players will want to be on the team. Unlike the leaders who don’t pursue top players, they don’t say “No” for someone they would love to have on the team—they go after him or her.
3. They constantly look to upgrade the team.
When a vacancy occurs, leaders who hire well don’t look for someone to “fill the shoes” of the person who left. They prayerfully and strategically look to upgrade the team. They don’t merely look to get the current work done; they look to expand the capacity of the team.
4. They invite people to join the mission.
Leaders who excel at hiring invite people to join the mission, not merely to fulfill a job or execute a task. They talk with passion about the purpose and the heart of the team. They know that if the organization needs is a few functions fulfilled, it is probably best to outsource those functions. For people who will be on the team, they want arms locked together moving in the same direction.
5. They obsess over value alignment.
Leaders who excel at building great teams know that talent and skill, while important, is woefully inadequate. They are convinced that someone on the team who does not deeply align with the values of the team will do more harm in terms of culture than good in terms of performance. So during the interview phase, they do all they can to expose the potential leader to the heartbeat of the organization to ensure there is a match.
6. They look for “scalers.”
Wise leaders don’t just hire for the needs of today; they are thinking about the future. They look for team members who can scale as the organization scales, can grow as the team grows, and can develop themselves as opportunities come.
7. They refuse to settle.
When work seems to be piling up, there is a tendency in organizations to quickly look at a slate of candidates who have applied to a posting (often people who are not satisfied in their current jobs), rather than aggressively pursuing people with a deep-seeded commitment to find the absolute right person for the role. Sometimes it may be a person who has applied. Often it will not be. But the best leaders refuse to settle. They would rather have a hole in the org chart than a mediocre player in the role.