Characteristics of a healthy team member

Emotional health – Choose team members who are emotionally healthy. Just one emotionally unhealthy team member can sully the entire team. Signs of emotional pathology include: uncontrolled temper, severe mood swings, unwillingness to admit wrongdoing, controlling behavior, being territorial, critical spirit, and inordinate sensitivity to criticism and correction.

Positive attitude – Select people who have a “can-do” attitude and are optimistic. Negative, pessimistic people will be an emotional drain on the entire team.

Passion – Ideally, your team members will have a passion for whatever it is you’re asking them to do. But at a minimum, select people who live passionate lives. Choose people who are “fully alive” because they will bring energy to their work even if they are not passionate about their particular assignment.

Team player – A gathering of great individuals does not necessarily make a great team. In fact, independent-minded soloists will inhibit a team’s effectiveness. Recruit people who “play well in the sandbox with others.” During the hiring interview make it clear that everyone who serves on your team must be a team player.

Evident gift – Peter Drucker advises, “When you look at a potential leader and don’t see even one great strength, don’t choose him—even if you see no great weaknesses.” Often, we screen potential candidates by looking for flaws, and if we spot one, that person is eliminated. But this approach may result in a mediocre team. You must recruit people who are strong in at least one area; everyone should have an evident gift. 

John Maxwell illustrates this advice with an anecdote from the Civil War: “Abraham Lincoln sought men without glaring weaknesses. As a result, the well-equipped Union army fared poorly against the Confederates. The Confederate army was staffed with generals, who, although they had obvious weaknesses, were picked for their great and obvious strengths. Lincoln finally chose Ulysses Grant as leader of the army, although he was an alcoholic.”

I’m not suggesting that you enlist alcoholics, I am encouraging you to choose team members who “bring something to the table.”