The 5 Attributes of a Talented Team Member


Recently invited to speak at an industry educators forum, where we were talking with a mixture of educators of a specific industry and leaders. I wanted to share my presentation in the written form / short version to get your opinion and ask you…. what are the attributes you think are key for a talented team member?

Why have a short list of the attributes?

Why does it matter?

One of the key questions asked by an educator to a business owner was “Would you hire attitude over technical skill…?

Of course, this one roused interest from all the educators, sitting up eagerly awaiting the answer. A resounding ” Yes, definitely” came from not only one, but several of the business owners at the forum.

And why you may ask?

Because technical skill can be learnt and trained…. it was widely stated that attitude is something more ingrained, innate if you like, it’s a part of the existing package.

So how do you bring out the best in a talented team member?

Can you teach or educate attitude?

When does attitude start?

Is it only innate (born with) personality type or can someone improve on and grow some of these attitude attributes?

It’s a part of their personal development, but what happens, if a young person didn’t get so much of it in their younger years. You may be employing them…. yet wondering on how they ended up missing out on some of those key attitude attributes that make them a fabulous team member. (There is a bit to do with innate personality type and the imprint years 0-7… however for today, let’s go back to the forum discussion.)

Or as our conversation moved to better understanding, leading and discovering the talent, we got onto the topic of working with the Millennials.

What happens if it’s not that they missed out of those attributes, but by nature of their generation, environment, the times, social engagement, they have different attributes?

Who is to say what’s better / worse, right or wrong?

I believe integration and education are key. We need to integrate generations and we need to learn and understand the differences between these generations, between personality types, understand the influence of values and core beliefs. There is so much to all of this. It’s a big and important topic.

So I add this, these 5 key attributes outlined below, come purely from my perspective and my 25+ years in business management and leadership, this is what I look for in a person, it’s neither right nor wrong, you may have other attributes that work for you, for where the team or business is at right now, or what you may be wanting to drive the business across the next 10 years.

I think it’s a very interesting conversation.

One very fabulous lady in the room made mention of her adaption to working with Millenials and their attributes and said very clearly, she had changed her communication style rather than expect them to change theirs. I liked that because I whole-heartedly believe in the NLP theory “The Meaning of Communication is the Response We Get”.

If you’re not getting the response you want from the team, any team member regardless of age or culture then you need to be the one to adapt. The person with the most behavioural flexibility will be the most influential.

So back to the attributes…

Here are my fave top 5 for a talented team member (in no particular order):

1) Self-Leadership – they have some self-awareness about their own behaviour and ideally the impact to others, their surroundings. They are working on strengths, have some understanding of their weaknesses. It’s not about an overinflated ego or drama king or queen. They know to leave the backpack (of drama) at the door to the office.

2) Resilience – they have some bounce back and can pick themselves up after being knocked down. Let’s face it, the workplace is not for the faint-hearted, it’s not a bed of roses and shit does happen. We need to know how to handle the pressure, overcome adversity and put on a brave face. Yes, this attribute like all of them grows with practice and experience. The cotton wool syndrome isn’t helpful.

3) Flexibility – Business is moving at a rate of knots. Whether it’s ever-changing technology, worldwide politics, the natural or not-so-natural disasters going on…. you name it, times are changing so rapidly. A talented team member must be ready and prepared to be flexible to change, look for opportunities and be ready for movement. This openness and adaptability can be empowered or completely disempowered from a very young age by being encouraged to embrace uncertainty, take risks and be open to challenge.

4) Creativity – Outside the box thinking, being able to come up with answers, not just one, but having a perspective to look at thing from different angles and find many ways to move forward, solve problems. Creativity is best encouraged with a passion for growth and a no failure only feedback mentality. An environment encouraging this will discover a plethora of possibilities from talented team members. But if it’s no, we don’t do that, or no we can’t do that, then eventually that creative mind may become complacent, switch off or go elsewhere.

5) Initiative – My fave attribute of all of them and one that can be so beautifully measured by how people take action or not, how they wait to be told, or get done, how they think for themselves and have a crack at things. Think about all the little ways you can and do measure initiative at your workplace? How do you see it, hear it or experience it… or NOT? Often it’s obvious when it’s missing? Because the team member may need to be told every step of the way. Thing regularly doesn’t get done, you need to keep harping… Keep your ears and eyes open for this one.

So what do you think?

What other attributes would you add to the list? Or change perhaps?

At the end of the forum, several people mentioned Passion. We think passion is a key attribute.

Yes, I agree and for me, it’s almost got to be a given. Because without it a sole is dead, drained, bored, empty. So please yes, absolutely make sure your talented team member, whether a potential recruit or someone in your employ already. Please ensure they’re passionate. Because if they’re not, they’re on the wrong bus. There can be a ‘means to an end’ type of employee, you have them to push a button, load some data and do some tasks, but ultimately, if you’re in any way in the business of people (whether it’s teamwork or talking to customers) everyone on the team needs passion.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Genevieve “Passionate about Talent” Matthews




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