Typically, you won’t find words like “intellectual humility” and “gratitude” listed in job postings. However, those are two of the character traits that our team values, and we seek these traits when hiring.
At Relay Network, we thought long and hard about how we wanted to build our team. We didn’t have to look far for guidance: Philly-based Character Lab gave us all the inspiration we needed. Character Lab has created a set of playbooks that are intended to be a tool for teachers and parents as they work to build character in children. We found great inspiration in the Character Lab playbooks and believe that the same principles can be applied to adults in business.
Each Character Lab playbook targets a specific character strength: creativity, curiosity, emotional intelligence, gratitude, grit, growth mindset, honesty, intellectual humility, kindness, proactivity, purpose, self-control and social intelligence.
When building out Relay’s product and client success teams, I thought about which character traits would matter most. I knew that our team would need to remain open to learning about our product as it evolved. We would need to listen to our clients, to each other, and to our engineers. We would need to debate pros and cons and build consensus despite differing viewpoints and needs.
As a result, I chose the unifying soft skill of “intellectual humility” for the product and client success teams. Character Lab says:
“When you approach life with intellectual humility, you open your mind to learning. You are able to learn from opposing views and have more constructive discussions, even when you disagree. No matter how old you are, with intellectual humility you become wiser. It helps you be less judgmental of others, learn more in school, and be a better leader.”
Intellectual humility does not take away from the team’s status as experts, but it does give us space to listen, to ask questions, to be vulnerable, and to value other viewpoints. Furthermore, it empowers us to seek guidance from other team members, and to disagree in a manner that feels collaborative and respectful. Leading with intellectual humility makes us a great team, enabling us to serve our clients and build a great product.
When Brie Tascione, Relay’s CMO, was building our marketing team, she identified “gratitude” as a guiding principle. The Marketing team is one of the most outward-facing groups at Relay. The team’s ability to treat every interaction with gratitude means that they appreciate and respect every opportunity. This is, quite simply, a delightful way to face the world and build a business. Character Lab says:
“When you feel gratitude, you feel a sense of abundance. When you express gratitude —especially when it’s heartfelt — you strengthen your relationships with others. Grateful people are happier and more fulfilled. And gratitude leads you to be nicer to other people: more cooperative, patient, and trusting.”
Brie and her team demonstrate their gratitude on a daily basis. Their gratitude is infectious, generating positivity with our prospects, our sales team, and across the entire organization.
Some tips if you’re hiring a team:
Take the time to deeply consider which character traits matter the most to your team. Contemplate why these traits are important. Brainstorm with colleagues in your company, asking for their input. Place character traits at the top of your list when determining whether or not a candidate will add to the culture of your team. Focus on character in every conversation as you interview, and you will know if the candidate exhibits the desired trait. Then, foster that trait in your day-to-day interactions as a team.
And if you’re interviewing:
Be yourself! Lean into your unique character traits in the interview process. Interviewers are looking for more than what is on your resume. Are you especially creative? Make sure to highlight examples of how you’ve creatively solved a problem or built a new tool. Are you kind? Tell a story about a day when you quietly helped a colleague in need. Do you have great self-control? Recount the time that everyone wanted to take the shortcut, and you stayed the course, ensuring that things were done properly. These are things that will get you a job in a culture-forward company. Best of all, companies that value character are great companies to work for.
The tech scene in Philly is growing daily. In our case, Relay is starting 2020 with a new round of funding, and I am excited to see how we continue to grow and proud to be part of the team. Our employees’ character traits — creativity, curiosity, emotional intelligence, gratitude, grit, growth mindset, honesty, intellectual humility, kindness, proactivity, purpose, self-control and social intelligence — will become all the more important as we adapt to and celebrate the coming changes.
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