The 3 most valuable qualities a candidate should have to bring value to a team

Very recently I asked Giacomo Tesio, author of Epic Framework, which developing methodology was the more successful, from his point of view.

In his reply, a sentence was very inspiring:

I’d really like to have an easy answer. But I’ve not such silver bullet.
The most successful projects that I worked for, relied on trust, humility and skills.
Everything else changed each time.

That reminded me when, in a job interview, the recruiter asked me to list the three most valuable qualities I thought a team member should have in order to add value to the team.

I never thought to that, so I replied:

  • ability to discord (and generate discord)
  • intellectual honesty
  • willingness of build human relationships outside the job context.

Slow apprentices are better than fast ones

I know: “ability to create discord” (I hope it’s a proper translation for Italian “dissenso”) is not a way to “smoothly integrate the newcomer”. Yet, I think it’s a valuable quality.

Stanford Professor Robert Sutton believes there are two kinds of workers: slow apprentices and fast apprentices and that slow ones are preferable, if your company’s profits depend on how much innovative their products must be.

Fast apprentices quickly adapt to enterprise rules and create generally no problem. Just hire them and in a few weeks they’ll act just like their colleagues. But, they won’t probably bring any innovation: they will just adapt. They won’t try to change and improve the environment.

Slow apprentices are the ones who can eventually change, evolve something. They are rebels, somehow. They will question bad processes rather than submissively accept them; before adopting a bad habit they will propose alternatives and they’ll struggle to meet their commitments in smartest and new ways.

Sutton comes even to give suggestions on how to induce (constructive) fights and discussions in the team, in order to stimulate changes.

I think it’s what Giacomo calls “skills” in his comment. I’d rather use the terms “skills and seniority“, where seniority has nothing to do with technical skills.

Moral probity and The Art Of Honestly Judge Oneself

Intellectual honesty is much more than simple honesty, to me.

One can have a strong moral probity, and yet have difficulties in communicating with other with a open mindset. When I say “open” I mean free enough from constraints in judging herself: I mean a mindset that allows one to say “I’m wrong” when she’s wrong, and to help other ones’ idea, without envy.

Intellectual honesty is the real ingredient to build team spirit, to me.

It’s what Giacomo call “humility” in his comment. It may be a more proper word.

I trust in you, you trust in us

The third of my choices was silly. Just weak. (Fortunately, I got the job anyway)

Well, the recruter pointed out that a good third choice could have been “trust“, instead.

Trust must be bi-directional. The team member trusts in the team, and that’s the only way to enfatize group intelligence.

The team (and the whole company) must trust in its members. No trust leads to no authority and no delegation in taking decisions. Only if the company trusts in me I can really partecipate and successfully solve problems. No trust often leads to strong, stiff hierarchical structures, where everyone just follow dictates from above.

Cheers. Have dissent, humility and trust.

4 thoughts on “The 3 most valuable qualities a candidate should have to bring value to a team

  1. I would just add that humility is the most important one (far different from modesty, that is just haughtiness in disguise) becouse it causes the others.

    If you want to be “humus”, you don’t take yourself too seriously (and don’t take any authority too seriously). This leads to the intellectual honesty to say “Sorry, I was wrong.” but also “No, I don’t agree.” (without much diplomacy).
    Humility makes you to study and experiment (and thus to cumulate skills).
    Humility makes you to challenge power…
    Humility makes you donate…

    It’s a two sided sword: it can make you authoritative but it doesn’t help in your career.
    In the short term, modesty is much easier and profitable.

    Note however that I value humility so much, even becouse the haughtiness is one of my worst sin.

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