5 Traits of Great Staff

When it comes to great staff, we all want to hire the best leaders, see them flourish and realize their God-given potential!

When a staff member is motivated, competent, and loves their job, they are a joy to work with! They bring life to the party and you want to be around them.

We also know that’s not always the case. An unhappy staff member who struggles to do their job, and possibly doesn’t like where they work can really hurt the team.

Selecting the best staff is an art, we never get it perfect, but if you know what you are aiming for you are much more likely to get.

What traits should we look for? What characteristics do you want to develop after they are on the team? Of all the options we could list, which ones are at the top of the list?

Before we look at the five traits of great staff, let’s review the basics.

The foundational elements of great staff, just like a great boss, are:

  1. Love Jesus: humble spirit, servant heart, hears God’s voice
  2. Continued Growth: secure, learning, practicing leadership
  3. Strong Character: trustworthy, living by the same standards that they expect, discipline to do the right thing

The following 5 traits come from interviewing and coaching hundreds of church leaders across the country, as well as my own personal experience as an Executive Pastor leading staff.

5 Traits of Great Staff:

1) They bring leadership energy to the table.

At 12Stone Church, we say about a great new staff person “Someone just showed up.” You don’t have to be in our culture to immediately get a feel for what that means. We all know how wonderful it is when someone else jumps in and brings leadership energy into the room. They help make things happen!

  • A great staff member is inspired with passion for the mission.
  • Great staff are proactive.

2) Their consistent self leadership results in noticeable maturity.

Leading others well begins with leading yourself well. The basics of being a great employee seem simple but make a surprising difference. Things such as being on time, finishing assignments, taking initiative even in the little things, and following up on what is promised. These kinds of behaviors require consistent discipline and result in maturity. Any staff member that operates out of a framework of maturity along with competence is a highly valued teammate.

  • Great staff are self-aware.
  • Great staff manage emotion well.
  • Great staff are OK when a teammate gets more than they do.

3) They absorb pressure with grace and composure.

It’s natural to want to get rid of pressure, or at least make it lighter by taking the matter to your boss. It’s normal to want to know what your boss would do. Sometimes you need some help. That’s OK. That’s part of why your boss is there. But the best leaders absorb as much pressure on their own as possible. You become absolutely invaluable if you consistently step in, step up and handle the pressure filled situations, whatever they may be.

  • Great staff lead well at home. (Peace at home increases your ability to handle pressure at work.)
  • Great staff lead up well. (On this topic, I recommend 360 Degree Leader, by John Maxwell.)
  • Great staff solve problems.

4) They are socially adept and get along well with even challenging personalities.

It’s difficult to over emphasize the importance of strong and natural relational abilities. This is especially true in the church where nearly every situation is relationally driven. The following four attributes are simple to understand, but tough to live consistently. Leaders who are good with people live them well and are in high demand.

  • Great staff are encouragers.
  • Great staff are positive by nature.
  • Great staff possess a sense of humor.
  • Great staff have a personal inner peace that allows them to pay attention to others.

5) They are really good at what they do, and continue to improve.

We all want to be on a winning team and winning teams have staff that are gifted at what they do! When you work in a healthy and productive environment there is much training, development, coaching and encouragement. In response staff become better at what they do. That’s the ideal winning scenario!

  • Great staff possess talent and skills that are recognized and requested.
  • Great staff see the big picture.
  • Great staff have a competence that leads to greater capacity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

4 thoughts on “5 Traits of Great Staff”

  1. Tom Pendergrass

    Dan, thanks for this timely post. I will use this as a roundtable discussion at our annual staff retreat next month. Are you coming to the Leadership Open later this month in California?

  2. Dan, what’s your most successful way to get time-accountability from your great staff members? Younger church staff seem to have the universal expectation of spending lots of time in coffee shops or “working from home”. Do you know where your staff are right now? Are they all giving the Lord and the church an honest week’s work?

    1. Big picture — the answer is to hire well and inspire them with vision and encouragement. Rules and policies never solve this issue. It’s true that for some young staff they have not yet learned work disciplines. So it’s important to communicate expectations and set boundaries. We don’t have set office hours, so I don’t know where all the staff are right now, but I trust them. We tend to measure by results more than hours, and our team is highly motivated. If we have a staff member who is not carrying their weight, we have a direct conversation. Hope that helps Rich.

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