7 Top CEO’s Describe Their Perfect Employee
There is no shortage of advice out there on how to be a good employee. But ever wonder how the world’s preeminent business leaders choose their new hires? These visionaries who run—and in some cases found—billion dollar companies look for particular qualities in the people they give responsibility to. If you are curious how top CEOs describe their perfect employee, read on. We rounded up a list of the seven traits they look for.
CEOs have to be 100 percent committed to the organization’s mission to succeed, and they seek new hires who share that dedication. Lloyd Dorfman, founder of money transfer service Travelex, says he wants to see in potential employees commitment, enthusiasm and the will “to make a difference.” In other words, he is looking for workers who believe their professional success is tied to that of the company.
Research shows that culture fit is key to worker engagement and overall performance. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson agrees: “The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality,” he says. How do you know if a workplace culture is going to be right for you? Figure out your own values first and then compare them with the organization’s.
Some CEOs value resourcefulness and resolve more than anything—traits that are usually described as “scrappy”—especially when their businesses survive on short innovation cycles. “I want someone who’s really smart, quick, and scrappy, who sees life as a glass half full,” explains Sara Blakely, founder and top boss at Spanx, Inc., a billion-dollar clothing company. These employees are not afraid to dream up and test big ideas, watch some of them fail and regroup for another round.
A Building Mindset
“At Facebook, we’re looking for builders. We believe our journey at Facebook is only 1% done so we want people who can help us build technology, products and our business into the future,” comments Sheryl Sandberg, COO of the social media mammoth. Builders are big thinkers. Whatever their specialty, they have a growth mentality, always brainstorming new projects that can take the company forward in new ways.
Being humble is vital to being a good team player. Understanding that other people’s work is as important as yours and that it takes everyone to make a company successful is at the heart of this kind of modesty. “I love really smart people who are focused on the good of the company before themselves. That gets my respect like nothing else. It’s a unique combination to find somebody who is so capable and smart, but has some level of humility about their place in the entire ecosystem,” says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder and chair of Joyus, a video shopping website.
Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, dishes out plenty of investment advice, but it seems he has strong opinions on the perfect employee, too: “You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person. Intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two,” he recommends. Having integrity is more than just being honest. It also means doing what you think is right for the company, even if it makes you temporarily unpopular.
This word gets kicked around a lot in the career space. It simply means that you love what you do for a living, and it shows. Passionate employees bring an energy and focus to work that others don’t. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sums it up best: “I’m drawn to people who really love their craft, and treat it like a craft, and are always trying to be better and are obsessed with what separates great from good.”
Kate Rodriguez is a freelance marketing copywriter based in Munich. She has over 20 years of professional experience in public and private organizations. A former international trade analyst for the U.S. government, she also worked as a university career coach, specializing in international career search. Most recently, she was employed at Experteer as a customer service agent and online marketing manager.