Seven non-negotiables I look for in team members:
To the making of lists, there is no end. That’s a fact. When we go shopping, we often have a list of things we operate from. When we are house hunting, we more than likely have written a list of things we are looking for in a house. When it comes to the house decision, we may have some non-negotiables that, if not present, would mean we wouldn’t even look at it--deal breakers.
Here are seven things that I want to see in someone I’m considering inviting to join a team I lead.
They are non-negotiables.
If these are not present, it’s a no-go. If it becomes clear in the first interview, there are no more interviews. The process is over.
I’m not saying they have to be perfect in every one of these; but they do need to demonstrate that they are well down the road and have a strong desire to continue to develop in these areas:
1. Rooted in a genuine relationship with Jesus
I know this might not be applicable in some work situations; but when it comes to churches and Christian-based groups and organizations, this is imperative. I want team members who are not just Christians, but Christians who deeply and genuinely love Jesus and are growing in both having their identity (value, worth, security) in him and intimacy with him. I don’t want just church goers or ethically moral people, but those who have a sincere love for Jesus.
The person demonstrates a curiosity and hunger to continue to grow and learn and add value to everyone around them. They ask lots of questions and never think they know it all. They are willing to learn from anyone, at any time, on any topic. “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NLT)
3. Strong character traits--especially integrity
I have come to the firm conclusion that being a person of character is paramount. When you look at the leadership chapters in the Bible (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, I Peter, and Acts 20), it’s crystal clear that character trumps everything else. More leaders fall over character issues than competency issues. Just review newspaper headlines from the last several months to see proof of this. Start with the character traits listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Galatians 5:22,23.
4. Team player
The individual knows how to work in a team context with give and take on decisions and discussions. It doesn’t have to always go their way. They are flexible, open and listen well during team debate and deliberations. They are willing to defer to others on the team when appropriate. It isn’t all about them but about what’s best for the entire team and the organization the team serves.
5. Excellent people skills
Some people seem to be natural at getting along with others: loving others, caring for others, putting others’ feelings and desires ahead of their own. Others (like myself) need to work hard at it, in dependency on Christ, as we are more task- oriented. Wherever you are on the spectrum, it is clear to me that to make the maximum contribution we all need to grow and become good in people skills. A lot of very capable and competent people plateau somewhere along the line because they don’t have, or haven’t bothered to develop, people skills. The higher you rise in an organization, the more your people skills need to be developed. Early on you can lead through ability/gifts, and having more knowledge than others; but, later on, most of what gets done happens through the strength of your relational network.
They are full of energy and passionate about life, people, what the team is all about and where the team is heading. They don’t know how to spell lazy, half-hearted or mediocre. Passion is a choice, not a personality trait. Any person can become a passionate person who deeply and genuine cares about important things and precious people.
7. Above-average competency in a key area
Yes, people on my team need to be good (very good) at something that adds critical value to the team. This, by itself, will not guarantee them a seat at the table; but without it they are not adding anything new and necessary to the team either. All the other things on my list of non-negotiables will aid the competencies they possess to achieve their maximum result.