Last week I was chatting with a friend who needs to build a new team and he asked me what were the key things I looked for in people I want to hire.
The best people I have had the privilege to work with over the past 20 years all shared 3 key traits:
Also known as being 'streetwise', pragmatism is by far the most important trait of the best people I worked with. People who are pragmatic can choose the best solution in most situations, they have a gift at finding the best compromise in order to maximise the outcome. Pragmatists do not waste time (it's not pragmatical!), do things by themselves if they know it's the best for the company instead of delegating to the wrong person, they can negotiate the best deals that keep the customers happy while maximising profitability and so on.
Without empathy it's very hard to understand what people around you want. If you can't understand what your customers want, what your colleagues want, your boss, your suppliers or partners you will have a very hard time knowing what to do and clearly this will slow down the development of the company. Empathy is needed to build long lasting relationships and a company con only succeed through the connections with the ecosystem it operates in. No empathy, no ecosystem. Plus, empathy helps building stronger teams as people who care about others are better managers and in general create a better atmosphere and culture within the company.
Not being thick helps. Intellect is required to solve problems in creative ways, it's useful if you are trying to be innovative, it helps decoding the market trends and signals around you, but on its own it is pretty useless. We have all met clever people who lack empathy and pragmatism and these generally are not very productive members of a team.
The order of importance of these traits is the one laid out here (PEI) but PIE it's easier to remember and more fun, hence the title of the post ;-)
So, if you meet somebody who scores highly on all 3 I'd suggest you offer them a job straightaway. If you are not sure it means you are probably not very pragmatical so please introduce them to me and please do not apply for any vacancy I may be advertising in the future.