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Commentary

The Quality Every Leader Should Look for in Employees

Jun 09, 2016

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you build a strong team?” is written by Brian Smith, chief wine officer at Winc.

The quality I always look for in individuals is the same quality that I would hope to get out of a high-performance team: intuition. Those who have intuition are more equipped to see opportunities, find an optimal solution, and innovate, all while understanding their partner’s positions or motives. It is an awareness that makes people more creative, effective, and generally more fun to work with.

In order to pinpoint intuition, I look for people who may have started something on their own, even if it has failed. It's more about taking initiative, seeing the landscape, and trying to find a niche solution or opportunity. I always like to ask, "When was the last time that you created something you were proud of?" It’s a classic interview question for me, regardless of the role.

Once you have some incredible people on your team, the next steps are to get aligned and stay connected. Alignment and connectivity are the pillars for success on any team. Not only do people need to embrace and understand the big goals, but they need to embrace consistent communication and maintain focus to increase the probability of hitting those goals.

See also: Why Hiring Just for Experience Is a Really Bad Idea

For most of us, it's nearly impossible to step away from the day-to-day action, but I have become a huge believer in getting offsite. It's amazing what a change of scenery and a bare-bones agenda can get you. These are often the greatest opportunities for strategic alignment, deeper understanding, and innovation as a team. At a recent offsite, we encouraged the team to challenge the status quo. One of our team members came up with the idea to change the way we packaged our wine, and we ended up saving a few hundred thousand dollars in addition to significantly reducing our environmental impact. You can’t get to these types of ideas if you don’t provide your team with a free and open environment to put everything on the table.

Once you have the big goals and initiatives, it all comes down to execution. This is hard, especially in the winemaking business. For about a third of the year, I’m in remote vineyards all over the world, and the days are long. Travel like this completely takes me away from day-to-day communication with my team. But spending time in the market or in the vineyards with purveyors, customers, growers, and winemakers is invaluable to informing my point of view.

To stay connected while I’m traveling, I try to schedule a 30-minute touch-base meeting with each leader every week. We leverage 15Five, which is a great tool for recapping the week’s wins, losses, near-term goals, and challenges.

Hire intuitive people, build a strategy together, and have a clear system for achieving success. To me, this is the foundation for a successful team. If you can throw in a little passion and fun, the sky is the limit.

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