The best leaders seek out A players for every area of their business. This is not a problem for the most successful and profitable businesses. But your company, especially if it’s a startup, might not have the financial ability to hire A players for every position. So what can you do to find these people on a shoestring budget and how do you recognize an A player? What are the common competencies and traits they possess that make them more qualified than their peers?
This excerpt is taken from “The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms” by Paul Roetzer. It covers the personality traits that you should be looking for when hiring A team players.
“Although intelligence and experience are key, their character, internal drive, personalities, and innate abilities are the intangibles that truly differentiate great candidates from good ones. Let’s take a look at some of the most desirable competencies and traits of marketing agency A players:
Analytical: They make quick decisions based on logic and reason. They love data, and use it to educate, build consensus, and drive action. They are measurement geeks, and look to apply critical analysis to agency activities, and they integrate it into every phase of client campaigns.
Balanced: They maintain a strong work-life balance. They have personal interests and hobbies that regularly present opportunities to unwind and recharge. This keeps stress levels controlled and energy high. Balance becomes more critical as professionals move up into management levels, and their responsibilities and stress levels grow.
Confident: They put in the extra time and energy needed to gain knowledge and experience, which translates into confidence and composure. Confidence is not to be confused with arrogance and entitlement, which are two of the most undesirable traits of an agency professional.
Creative: They bring innovative approaches and thinking to projects. They have an innate ability to work within standard systems while efficiently integrating original ideas and strategies that strengthen the agency and client campaigns.
Detail-oriented: They are incredibly organized and thorough in all communications and activities, which instills tremendous confidence in their clients, peers, and managers. They rarely make careless mistakes. Their attention to detail enables them to excel at time management and project management.
Focused: They avoid multitasking in favor of concentrated effort. They know priorities at all times and work efficiently to deliver. They have the ability to shut off distractions, and are often the most productive and efficient workers.
Intrinsically motivated: As defined in Daniel Pink’s classic book, Drive, intrinsically motivated people seek: autonomy, the desire to direct their own lives; mastery, the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and purpose, the yearning to contribute to something greater than themselves.
The “it” factor: They maintain a strong presence and positive aura. They command attention when they walk into a room and exude confidence without an air of arrogance. They have an intangible element that cannot be defined, but it makes them uniquely capable of succeeding in an agency. They are born leaders.
Listener: They excel at listening and understanding the needs of others. They are adept at making others the focus of conversations.
Positive: They bring a positive energy to the agency that is uplifting and encouraging to the entire team. They make favorable first impressions. People want to be around them and work with them.
Relationship-builder: They know that strong relationships are the key to success in business, and proactively build connections with peers, clients, media, partners, and vendors. They are strong communicators who do the little things that matter, such as sending personal notes to recognize achievements and milestones.
Risk-taker: They take calculated risks. They do not let fear of failure hold them back, and, as a result, they tend to be more aggressive and proactive professionals on behalf of the agency and its clients.
Social web savvy: They monitor and participate in forums and social networks relevant to their interests and the industry. They engage with peers and influencers, and they maintain a professional presence on all social networks that positively represents themselves and their agencies.
Strategic: They are capable of fully assessing situations, and considering short- and long-term outcomes. They know how decisions and activities affect different audiences, and how they work to achieve business goals. They make seemingly unrelated connections others commonly miss.
Team player: They function extremely well within a team environment, but they also excel when working independently. They always seek opportunities to support team members and encourage collaborative learning.
Tech-savvy: They stay immersed in technology news and trends. They continually evaluate emerging products and solutions for opportunities to improve efficiency and performance.
Writer: They possess exceptional writing skills and the capability to clearly and concisely articulate their thoughts. They use creative and technically sound writing to produce powerful and effective communications. Copywriting is one of the most valuable competencies in a marketing-agency professional.”