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The best CEOs, entrepreneurs and team leaders I know have one thing in common: they’ve learned how to recognize and hire the right teammates as part of just about any growth strategy. In fact, I’ve met owners of incredibly successful companies who admitted that the only thing they did right was surround themselves with the right talent, and at least in some instances, I don’t think they were being humble!
We all have strengths, weaknesses and blind spots, and among the best things we can do within the beautiful 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 recognize and address them.
“How to approach this?” you might ask. “Whom should I look for, and how to find them?”
To address 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 for finding the right teammates.
1. Know Yourself
How can we find our counterparts, Maxwell observed at the outset of our talk, if we don’t recognize the missing pieces within ourselves? So, start by being brutally honest with your business self. Such honestly doesn’t mean being self-deprecating or harsh, but you do want to take an open and objective look at what you’re good at, what you could get better at and what sort of things simply aren’t in your wheelhouse .
I find it helpful to make a list of such strengths, weaknesses and absent qualities, then ask a few people you trust (ideally those who have also worked with you before) if the results seem accurate. Sometimes this deep dive can be tough, but understanding where you fit is essential, because it dictates the types of teammates you need to help maximize success.
Related: Are You a Real CEO? Here’s a Self-Assessment Formula
2. Find the Believers
Sure, there are some high-fliers given to calling out early-stage doubters as sources of motivation, but the truth is that people usually find true success in the presence of others who believe in them. Yes, we can let doubters fuel us initially, but business and entrepreneurship are not islands, nor should they be.
“The truth is, very few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be,” Maxwell explains. “So, find teammates who believe in you… who believe in your company and your cause. They provide and maintain the positivity and hope you need in the difficult situations you’re sure to face.”
3. Add the Achievers
Achievers are, not surprisingly, marked by their achievements, so look for teammates who have left great things in their wake. Most can be marked by their ambition, self-discipline and goal-oriented mindset.
Maxwell leaned into this insight a little further:
“Find individuals who measure their success not in completed tasks lists or 9-to-5 desk-sitting, but by quantity and quality of wins,” he said. “We need people who are more about achieving end goals and big steps. Even better: such people push other achievers to do even more.”
Related: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent
4. Collect the Conceivers
Innovative ideas are instrumental to the success of organizations, and there’s nothing quite like confronting a problem, pondering a solution, then suddenly realizing that, “I have an idea person for that!” Hiring teammates with deft problem-solving skills and idea-generation abilities is simply invaluable. These individuals tend to think in divergent, lateral or convergent ways, and while some might regard them as unconventional, we see them as a vital part of the team.
“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten,” Maxwell said. “Good ideas guarantee future success. They fix problems. They make good things better, generate excitement and create new life out of thin air.”
5. Round Up the Relievers
Oftentimes, the most valuable people on your team are the ones who lighten the loads of others. They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty, and find value in being a member of a “fire brigade” of sorts. These comfort/safety providers not only take a burden off your shoulders, but do much to brighten and inform positive company culture. Maxwell summarized such “relievers” succinctly:
“You need individuals who will step in and get heavy work done. Many hands make light work. Gifted hands make successful work. Complimentary hands make teams work.”
Related: What Skills Does Elon Musk Have and Why Is He So Successful? It Comes Down to These 5 Personality Traits