Hiring Tips

The 3 Traits of 'A' Players Who Drive Companies to Success

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Tom Brady, star quarterback of the New England Patriots, began his NFL career with 198 players chosen before him. He has become one of the greatest NFL players of all time but recruiters thought 198 players had better potential, yet most never had great careers.

Choosing the right job candidates is similarly difficult. But what if you could spot the Tom Brady of job candidates every time? How successful would your company become?

As the rapid advancement of new technologies creates the need to deal with unknown variables, entrepreneurial individuals will provide the competitive advantage your business needs to stay ahead.

The difference between "B" players and "A" players is problem solving skills, communication skills and, most important, emotional intelligence.

Problem-solving skills.

In the early 1980’s, Chrysler’s market share in the auto-industry was dropping significantly. They were on the verge of bankruptcy before the government bailed them out. They were producing cars that had little competitive advantage over other car companies that customers cared for.

So, Chrysler listened to their customers needs that were not being served: fit everything needed for the nuclear family, be easy to drive, and fit into the garage. With this information, Chrysler decided to combine the car and the van, and in 1984 unveiled the Minivan; opening up a new category of cars.

Within three years Chrysler gained $1.5 billion from the mini vans introduction alone. By creating a solution that solved a problem, not continuing to push only their current cars, Chrysler was able to elevate itself from bankruptcy to regain its position as a Big Three auto manufacturer.

Related: Want to Solve Problems More Efficiently? Do This.

Communication skills.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was fantastic at communicating why Apple was amazing to like-minded technology enthusiasts. However, he would do a poor job at communicating to buyers and investors. Our world would be a very different place then it is today without Steve Jobs' to effectively communicate to a wide variety of audiences.

The difference is identifying people who can effectively communicate to just one audience type, and another person who can effectively communicate to a diverse range of groups. The latter person can put themselves in the other person’s shoes, identify what they care about and tailor their message for those interests.

Entrepreneurs with experience have greatly enhanced their ability to quickly identify the interests of the person they are talking to and to tailor the “pitch” accordingly. How many times did your company have a great offering for a client, and the client just didn’t see the value in it? There is a good chance the solution was not effectively communicated. Time and effort invested should not be defeated by communication problems. Find individuals who can effectively communicate to your audience.

Related: 7 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is both being self-aware of one’s own emotions, and also those around them. Emotional intelligence is becoming recognized as one of the most important traits, if not the most, in evaluating whether an individual will be successful or not.

I had the great opportunity to speak with Christi Downes, Vice-President of Global Talent Management and Diversity at Harman International, to understand her perspective. Downes states that the company places an emphasis on emotional intelligence, and courage in particular. “We look at candidates and ask, ’do they have the courage to admit they do not have the answers?  Do they have the intellectual curiosity to find an answer?”

Using advice from Christi Downes, here are some tips to select "A" candidates in both the resume selections and interview process.

During resume selection, look for successful projects the candidate led in, not just participated. Do they have quantitative and/or qualitative proof they made a valuable impact? Strong candidates get different experiences because they know that diversity gives them a better perspective in business and life.

During the interview process, ask how the candidate will they fit into the culture you have at your company. If they have previous experience at companies that have a very different culture from yours, determine if they were a fit, or if they can adapt to yours. Tailor the lineup of interviews with the right people within your organization. This provides diverse perspectives, helps reduce any individual biases and produces a focus on the merits of the candidate.

Downs states “those with an entrepreneurial background are highly likely to possess these skills and have the strengths that Harman is looking for.”

The best part is you can attract these individuals by letting them know they are expected to do great work, and expected to solve problems for themselves. The right candidates will enjoy this!

Related: Don't Believe the Hype Around 'Emotional Intelligence'