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It’s Who They Are That Matters Most

By Joe Calloway

Here is a thought exercise that can help leaders think about and identify the keys to creating a truly great team:

Pick any existing company. You will then be given the assignment to take the people in that company out of their present industry, profession, or endeavors, and put them in a business completely different from what they presently do. For example, if you choose the people in a manufacturing company, they may then be assigned to open a women’s clothing store, or a fast food restaurant, or an IT consulting firm. What existing business team would you choose as being able to succeed no matter what the assignment or endeavor?

This exercise always brings me back to the realization that in creating success, the specific job, business, or technical skills are secondary in importance. What matters most is the people, who they are, their character, their values, their ability to identify and execute successfully on what is most important in any given endeavor.

One of my clients is such a team. Hughes Marino is a San Diego-based commercial real estate firm specializing in tenant representation. They are the best at what they do. The San Diego Union Tribune has named Hughes Marino the “Best Commercial Real Estate Company” many times.

But their success and expertise in real estate isn’t why the people in this company would be my choice to succeed if you took them out of real estate and put them into any other arena of business. Take a look at some of the other recognition they’ve received:

  • #7 Best Small Workplace in the Nation (Fortune Magazine)
  • #3 Top Company Culture – Medium Companies Division (2017 Entrepreneur Magazine)
  • #2 Top Company Culture – Small Companies Division (2015 Entrepreneur Magazine)
  • #1 Family Owned Business – Multiple Locations (Business Journal)
  • Best Places to Work – Multiple Years (Business Journal)
  • Workplace Excellence Award Medallion Winner (Society for Human Resource Management)
  • Most Admired Companies – Multiple Years (SD Metro Magazine)

Do you begin to see why I’d pick the Hughes Marino team to succeed at anything? It’s not their unsurpassed skill and expertise at what they do. It is the depth of their character and the values they hold dear that comprises who they are. Culture. Best Place To Work. Most Admired.

Take a look at the company values:

  • Always do the right thing.
  • Deliver excellence in everything we do.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • Embrace the family spirit.
  • Build lasting relationships built on trust.
  • Nurture your personal and professional life.
  • Pursue growth and learning.
  • Generously give to others.
  • Proactively communicate with everyone.
  • Be authentic, grateful, and humble.

And there’s the key. It’s really not so much what they’re good at that makes them great. What’s much more revealing and important to their success is what they believe in.

Shay and Jason Hughes have created, nurtured, and grown a remarkable team that I’d have confidence in no matter what assignment, task, or challenge they were given. Not because of their skills, which are formidable, but because of who they are.

For me the leadership lesson is simple and profound. Hire great people. Hire smart people whose character and humanity run deep. Then surround and engage them in a culture that also runs deep, and that is first focused on having us be the best people that we can be. From that foundation, you can build a team that becomes the best professionals they can be…a team that you’d proudly take anywhere, to take on anything.

This article originally appeared on joecalloway.com.

Shay Hughes is president, COO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or shay@hughesmarino.com to learn more.



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