Hiring Great Leaders


What is your criteria for hiring great leaders? Pastor Dan Reiland shares five key traits he looks for when selecting new team members.

We have an incredible team of leaders at 12Stone Church. This is my 14th year here, and I’m fortunate to work with such dedicated and inspiring people. They love God, care about each other, are really good at what they do, and are fired-up about the mission!

I’m often been asked what criteria we use to select staff leaders. I’ve used 5 main traits for the entire fourteen years.

Here they are:

1) Competence – What is the measurable evidence of their skills?

Chemistry and character are extremely important, and I’ll talk about those in a future post, but competence must be a given. Don’t guess about their skill level. Do your homework. Ask many day-to-day practical questions about how they would handle complicated situations. Know what they are good at. Be very specific. For example, don’t ask, “Are you a good recruiter?” Ask: “How many people have you personally recruited in the last 3 months, and tell me about those people?

2) Capacity – Can they lead at the next level?

The goal is not to hire for the current status of the job or ministry. The goal is to hire someone who can take the ministry area to the next level. Yes, that requires some discerning gifts but it’s not entirely an intuitive thing. The key is to look for trends. Is the individual personally and professionally moving forward? Is the person making progress? Do you see clear potential? Ask them to tell you the first thing they would do and what changes they would make if offered the job.

3) Intelligence – I don’t know a nicer way to say it. Are they smart?

I’ve taken some heat over the years on this question, but that’s okay. I’m not changing my mind. I want smart people on the team. I’m not talking about technical I.Q., but more so about general intelligence. Can they think? Do they think? Will they think? Are they intellectually lazy or willing to do the hard work of processing their thoughts? It’s great to ask your coach for help, but I want to know if they did any thinking on their own.

4) Energy – Do they bring energy into the mix?

Oh, I love this one. At 12Stone, when we make a great hire we say: “Somebody just SHOWED UP.” Don’t you love it when you aren’t the only one who brings energy into the room? I so appreciate leaders who can help us move the ball down the field. Leaders who have energy, ideas and are ready to make things happen!

5) Relational Savvy – Are they good with people?

It’s essential to love people, and as Christians that must always be the foundation of our leadership. But there is more. The ability to connect at a heart level and get along with people is crucial.

  • Is the person self-aware?
  • Are they personally secure?
  • Do they laugh easily?
  • Can they read the room?
  • Are they other centered?
  • Are others drawn toward them?

These kinds of things are core to being good with people. Here’s a good final question: Do you like them as a person, and do you want to be around them every day?

If the candidate has these five traits and the chemistry works, you are very close to a green light!


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