The 4 Innate Qualities of Great Employees

With title inflation, clever wordsmithing, and self-marketing campaigns, every employee or potential employee appears to be a great employee. However, we all know the truth; few people are stars. In order to differentiate people and find the gem, seek out people with all of these four innate qualities:

1.  Good People

A key for success and fitting in at companies is to be “good people.” Good people are easy to get along with, have high ethics and good values.

As written on the leadership website,

Good people just naturally do things that EARN them the trust of others. They are honest and open…competent and knowledgeable. They are consistent and considerate. They display concern for others’ well-being as well as their own – sometimes before their own. And most importantly, they honor their promises and commitments.

2.  Passion for Learning

Unfortunately, few people have a real passion for learning. This is evidenced by the oft-cited statistic that:

42% of college graduates never read another book after college.

Yet, learning and re-learning are more essential than ever as the pace of change accelerates. We all need to learn in order to deal with the world as it exists today. Seek out the people that want to learn and try and do new things.

Hint: Ask your employees or potential employees what they have learned in the past two weeks and see the level of passion in their answer.

3.  Self-Control / Self-Discipline

With the success of the books, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the idea of self-discipline and self-control has gotten a good deal of attention. Rightly so, because having the self-control to focus on the most important and the self-discipline to get it done is essential to success in any field, be it business, athletics, music, the sciences, etc.

Hint: Ask your employees or potential employees how they maintain self-control in difficult situations or apply their innate self-discipline when they get blocked.

4.  Organization

With so many priorities and so many items to do each day, your top employees need to have tremendous planning and organizational skills to get it all done. This applies to all positions, but especially to executives, project managers and operations managers.

Hint: Ask your employees or prospective employees how they organize their day. If they do not have an immediate and detailed answer on how they get it all done, then they do not have the organization and planning capabilities that you need.

Reality Check: No person with a messy desk or an office over-flowing with paper or junk is well-organized, even if they profess to know where everything is.


All the attributes we often seek in employees – experience, industry or product knowledge, and current relationships – can be taught and built upon. But, these four qualities stand apart. They are internal and central to a person’s character, and they really cannot be taught. Find an employee with all of these characteristics, and you will have found yourself a star.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Personal Success, Team / People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The 4 Innate Qualities of Great Employees

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post David. And timely too as I am interviewing candidates today. As I go through the interview process for new employees I will certainly keep this close at hand. Also explains why some employees are not the stars you expect them to be.

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