A Brilliant Culture Is Made Up Of These People

Cultures that deliver a high level of performance and create competitive advantage for an organization are grown by leaders with the foresight to recruit the right “human essence” that ensures long-term success.

You hire to fill a job but you recruit to build a successful culture.

In my three-decade career as an executive leader, I discovered that there are some basic competencies in people that, when operating in unison, not only create a workplace where people love to work together, but also deliver results that stand the organization apart from others.

Also read: This Is What A Success Culture Looks Like

Recruit individuals who possess these traits and you are well on your way to setting the culture benchmark for your business.

Lifelong learner

If a person is not on a lifetime learning path, they are likely incapable of bringing future value to the organization. Look for evidence that prospects are active learners. That they have a track record of learning new skills required by a changing environment, and are interested in subject areas relevant to your organization’s strategic game plan. Look for people who have learned from practitioners who have been successful because they have DONE things in messy and complicated environments.

Infection agent

The ability to infect others with the interest and excitement necessary to execute your strategic game plan is a priceless art. Some people have the leadership abilities, innate passion and tenacity to get others emotionally committed to the organization’s journey. Get ’em on board.


One of the most critical imperatives for an organization is to maintain and build customer loyalty after they have suffered a service breakdown; the loyalty building process is launched with the phrase “I’m sorry”. Find people who are able to accept accountability for something going wrong and who are able to apologize naturally and are believable when they do it. Some can’t. Some don’t want to.

Human being “lover”

Creating a “wow” factor for customers is about serving them in exemplary ways. Look for people with a natural desire to serve. Memorable customer moments are created by these people. Find them. Nurture them. Protect them. Reward them. Some people find the notion of serving others repugnant and would rather pursue a career where they are not required to deal with customers. Let your competitors have them.

Also read: How Does A Caring Culture Make You Wildly Successful?

Pain shield

Success and greatness doesn’t come without setbacks, disappointment and pain along the way. Any chosen destination is rarely achieved the way it was originally intended due to unforeseen events. Resilience and people with thick skin are needed to stay the course and deliver the results expected. Look for people who like to “get dirty” and who are comfortable with inelegant methods and solutions.

Successful failure

Success in any endeavour requires an abundance of tries and the willingness to fail along the way. Successful people fail a lot. Look for they have suffered a service breakdown and who have a natural proclivity to move forward despite shortfalls.


Stories bring everything to life, painting a picture of what it looks like when success happens. Bring people in who can skillfully light up someone’s eyes with a story about some aspect of your strategy. Talk the event. Talk the person. Talk the magic.


Execution is complex. An indispensable team member is one who can see through complexity and simplify it so everyone understands what has to be done. Elegance that can’t be implemented is worthless. Get the “dumb down artist” who speaks in monosyllables to make it easy for people to deliver.


Deliverables to customers are produced through processes working across the organization, they are not produced in silos. Broken customer promises occur when a link in the internal supply chain breaks. Find people who can connect with others and build effective relationships with them.

First responder

Unpredictable, chaotic, random, uncertain and unexpected all describe the forces acting on any desired outcome. Winning organizations are brilliant at responding thoughtfully and quickly to the “body blows” they encounter. Discover individuals who have demonstrated they can bring their “A” game when the unexpected happens to get back on track.

Also read: One Of A Kind People Make An Amazing Culture


Organizations need people who react well under extreme pressure when things get hot and tensions run high. Generally people can’t be taught to chillax, they have it in their DNA. Look for people who are able to stop, pause, think and respond thoughtfully in tense situations. Covet the mellow ones.

Nano-inch seeker

There’s no such thing as a silver bullet to success. Progress is made by executing a strategy patiently and flawlessly, inch by inch. Seek people who have demonstrated the tenacity and perseverance to get an inch worth of progress fast.

Sure, academic credentials are important, but amazing cultures are not based on what people know.

Unmatched cultures are created by individuals who possess “beyond knowledge” competencies that achieve in the face of odds stacked against them.

Download the eBook and learn how to use neuroscience to attract the right talent, retain high-performing employees and foster collaborative teams.

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