Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 5 Traits All Top Performers Share

The 5 Traits All Top Performers Share


Hiring great people is one of the biggest challenges leaders face. Look for these 5 traits and you'll find employees who aren't just good, but exceptional.
There's one mistake I made earlier in my business life when it comes to people: only hiring when there was a defined need. One day, I realized that
if we could afford it, it's just as important to hire exceptionally talented people even when you don't have an opening. On occasion, when we
found a gifted person, an A player beyond doubt, we'd hire her and park her in the organization. At first, we would just give the person something
to do. Always, after a few months, she was working 10-hour days and making a big contribution. Inevitably, we found an important role for her, or she
found it on her own. I never regretted hiring an A player.

What do I look for? Five key things, in this order.

1. Intellectual firepower

2. Values

3. Passion

4. Work ethic

5. Experience

I always put brainpower first because intellect is the most important of the raw materials we work with. From intelligence comes thoughtful 
analysis, asking the right questions, good judgement, and better decisions. I want the smartest people I can find to join our organization. 
High-potential people like to be with other high-potential people. When I interview candidates, I'll often ask them to bring me through their lives. 
I want to know what their family history is. I want to know how well candidates performed in high school and college. I want to know whether 
they also reached beyond their academic potential to demonstrate some leadership potential.

Frankly, I want to know if their grade-point average (GPA) was 2.7 or 3.9 out of a possible 4.0. Even if they've been out of school for many 
years, a GPA can represent four years of evaluation, not a sixty-minute impression during a brief interview on a busy day. It may not be necessarily true that a 3.9 GPA will be better than a 2.7, but the odds are with you. Just like the manager of a baseball team who puts a right-handed pitcher on the mound to face a right-handed batter in a crucial at-bat, I play the odds.
So I'm looking for the Phi Beta Kappa, the captain of the debating team the president of the student council. It's no coincidence that seventeen
presidents of the United States, thirty-seven U.S. Supreme Court justices, and 131 Nobel laureates have been members of Phi Beta Kappa.
I'm also looking for the person who rose quickly in another organization and was rewarded with an important leadership job. What challenges did that
executive overcome to get something meaningful done? How did that person apply his intelligence to the job to make something happen?

My hurdle for brainpower is high, but once it's jumped I'm on to the next most attribute of success: values. Ultimately, all the intelligence in the world isn't going to help a person who lacks basic integrity and compassion for other human beings. I'm looking for honesty, decency, respect,
kindness, generosity, and consideration.
Getting a fix on a person's values is admittedly difficult. Values are easier to discern once you have a person on staff, but much harder to 
recognize in an interview. You have to sense them. I can pick up some fairly good clues by the way candidates speak about their parents, their 
teachers, their role models in life. I want people who have been inspired by others, who are generous in giving credit to those who made a difference
in their lives. I'm looking for people who want to help others in need, who have demonstrated kindness and consideration to the disadvantaged. Some of this may be subtle. It's what you can interpret from tone of voice or a face lighting up. But this tells me a lot about a person's purpose 
in life.
Passion has become an overused word in recent years. Still, it's the level of enthusiasm and interest in work and life that makes someone stand out 
above the rest. It's a fire that burns deeply within us. Once tapped, it can bring you to places that few other people can go.
Unlike values, passion is easy to spot. You either have it or you don't. There is a spirit or fervor in people who have passion. You can often feel
their energy. They also are infectious team members. They ignite the passion in others. They get others to care as much as they do about 
accomplishing the possible and the seemingly impossible.
My fourth hiring attribute is work ethic. I work hard. I do so because I'm passionate about the work I do, and I feel good when I'm highly productive.
I expect the same from the people we hire. We want people who embrace work,who understand that it's not something you do only to earn a living, but
rather something that can help define who you are in this life.

During interviews, I try to get a feel for people how have a strong work ethic. You get that from learning they worked during high school and 
college, whether they worked weekends, what they sacrificed at times to work instead of play. At some level, work is about sacrifice: giving up 
some time with your friends or your family to perform your job at the highest possible level of excellence.

Finally, we come to experience. Experience, though important, is the last of the five things I look for because it's something you can provide your
staff. We can't give them more intellect, better values, passion, or a strong work ethic. But we can give them experience by providing an 
opportunity to learn a discipline or a job. That's why we can make a compromise when it comes to experience, but never on the first four.

When I recruit talent, I want to be as sure as possible that the person I'm hiring has all of these attributes. That requires patience and
work. And then I will do whatever it takes to bring that exceptional person on board.

Edited by: Lawyer Asad

No comments: