In our work with churches and businesses, hands down the leading question people ask is, “Where do I find ‘good people’?” But more specifically, what they’re asking is, “What traits should I be looking for in potential team members and volunteers?”
Of course, there are many traits that matter when it comes to staffing and leadership recruitment, but I would submit that there is one character trait that matters more than all the rest and that is Teachability!
It’s not that a good work ethic, educational background, or even experience, don’t matter, because they do, but teachability is the catalytic leadership trait that will give the people you’re recruiting and leading the ability to rise over the long-term and give your organization the greatest chance of success in the future.
In my book The Key to Everything, I define teachability as a person’s “Desire to learn times their willingness to change.” When you have a team of leaders who are teachable, you can change the world, but when you have a team of leaders around you who already “know-it-all,” you’re stuck. Teachability in your team is the key to your organization reaching its full potential.
So where do you start? What characteristics are you looking for that let you know someone possesses teachability? Start by looking for these 3 things…
- An Inviter of Feedback.
It’s one thing to listen politely when someone gives you feedback, but it’s another to actively seek it out. People who possess high teachability don’t just tolerate feedback when it comes their way, they proactively seek it out. After a presentation, they are asking their boss for input on how to make it better the next time. After a meeting, they want input from those in the meeting on how they could have led more effectively. People with high teachability understand that in order to grow and reach their full potential, they must seek out input from others around them. They don’t make it difficult for people to give them feedback in real time.
Being teachable isn’t easy. It requires admitting we don’t know everything. It requires a willingness to face inconsistencies in our character that are holding us back. It requires being willing to ask others for help to make our ideas better. Someone who possesses teachability isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo when problem-solving. Teachability doesn’t rest on yesterday’s success but is always striving to become better.
- Handles success and failure well.
There are two seasons in life when our teachability is tested the most: when we succeed, and when we fail. Success tests our teachability because it can lead us to believe we no longer need to be teachable. And failure tests our teachability because it can cause us to believe that our failure is worse than it actually is and consequently we shut down. How someone handles success and failure can tell you a lot about their level of teachability. Do they shut down? Do they get a big head? Do they make more of it than they should? Do they minimize it more than they should?
In the end, the success of your organization is wholly dependent on the quantity and quality of leaders you can recruit, train and empower in the coming years. Choosing people who possess a high level of teachability will set your organization up for success for a long, long time.