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The best CEOs, entrepreneurs, and team leaders I know have one thing in common: They’ve learned to identify and hire the right teammates as part of almost any growth strategy. In fact, I’ve met owners of incredibly successful companies who admit they did just the right thing to surround themselves with the right talent, and in at least some cases I don’t think they were humble!
We all have strengths, weaknesses and blind spots and the best thing we can do in the fine world of business is surround ourselves with teammates who complement our strengths, make up for our weaknesses and not only cover blind spots but help us to recognize and address them.
“How to go about it?” you might ask. “Who should I look for and how do I find her?”
To answer these questions, I sat down with bestselling author, world-renowned speaker, and business coach John C. Maxwell (full disclosure: he’s also a good friend) to get his advice on finding the right teammates.
1. Know yourself
How can we find our counterparts, Maxwell remarked at the beginning of our talk, if we don’t see the missing pieces within ourselves? So start by being brutally honest with your business self. Being so honest doesn’t mean being self-deprecating or harsh, but you do want to have an open and objective look at what you’re good at, what you could do better at, and what things just aren’t in your wheelhouse.
I find it helpful to make a list of those strengths, weaknesses, and missing traits, and then ask a few trusted people (ideally those who have worked with you before) if the results seem correct. Sometimes that deep dive can be difficult, but understanding where you fit in is important, as it dictates the type of teammates you need to maximize success.
Related: Are you a real CEO? Here is a self-assessment formula
2. Find the believers
Sure, there are some high achievers who aim to challenge early-stage doubters as sources of motivation, but the truth is, people usually find true success in the presence of others who believe in them. Yes, we can be driven by doubters at first, but business and entrepreneurship are not islands and should not be.
“The truth is, very few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be,” Maxwell explains. “So find yourself teammates who believe in you… who believe in your company and your cause. They provide the positivity and hope you need in the difficult situations you are sure to face.”
3. Add the top performers
Unsurprisingly, achievers are shaped by their accomplishments, so look for teammates who left great things behind. Most are characterized by ambition, self-discipline and goal orientation.
Maxwell delved a little further into this realization:
“Find people who don’t measure their success by completed to-do lists or 9-to-5 desk seats, but by the quantity and quality of wins,” he said. “We need people who are more concerned with achieving end goals and big strides. Better still, people like that drive other high performers to do even more.”
Related: How to attract and retain top talent
4. Collect the pollinators
Innovative ideas are critical to organizational success, and there’s nothing quite like confronting a problem, thinking about a solution, and then suddenly realizing, “I have an idea for that!” It’s just invaluable to hire teammates with adept problem-solving and ideation skills. These individuals tend to think in divergent, lateral, or convergent ways, and while some see them as unconventional, we see them as an important part of the team.
“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got,” Maxwell said. “Good ideas guarantee future success. They fix problems. They make good things better, create enthusiasm and create new life from nothing.”
5. Round up the relievers
Often the most valuable people on your team are the ones who take the load off others. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty and find it valuable to be part of some kind of “fire brigade”. Not only do these comfort/safety providers take a load off your shoulders, they do a lot to lighten and inform a positive corporate culture. Maxwell summarized such “helpers” succinctly:
“You need people to step in and do the heavy lifting. Many hands make light work. Talented hands make successful work.
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