Get the Right People on the Bus


Jim Collins, in his bestselling book Good to Great, is famous for saying “get the right people on the bus.”

This is so true. Having good people has been one of the biggest reasons for our success in South Africa. But at times, we have to think differently in order to make this a reality. Here are three elements to help you build the right team:

1. Look for the Mold Breakers
A tendency when building a team is to think everyone should be like you. This was not a good strategy when choosing a partner for marriage, nor is it in building a team.

Good teams comprise of many talents, cultures(ethnic and denominationally), and include diversity in their composition(male/female) and personality (introvert /extrovert).

True unity does not come from conformity, but through diversity. Scripture articulates this with all the “one body, many members” illustrations (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12)

Our team in Africa is primarily a teaching ministry. Yet, we have people with the skills of a pastor or an administrators on our staff. This mix brings balance to our team. We may not always have the best teachings day in and day out, but they bring strength to our team which makes us well-rounded and successful.

Think outside the box. Break the mold

2. Recruit Character not Talent
This is a loaded statement. I realize in the area of business you need the most talented person for the job. But I would still rather have a slightly less talented person with high character than the best scumbag in the field!

Have a grid of character traits that you look for when building your team. I believe much of leadership is learned, so I look for teachability, a hunger to learn, and humility in the people I recruit to my team.

Speaking of recruiting…


3. Invitation
I used to have this picture of sleazy recruiters who promise college athletes perks with back room bribes. This is not good when you work in a volunteer missions organization!

I had to see this perception change and invite people to our project. My two main tools to do this were the vision and the values of our team.

I remember one particular reporting session where I felt as if I could have several people sign up if I would just say “Who’s in?”

This current generation loves to commit to causes. Our job is to communicate the vision and to call them to action. I had a friend describe them as a “Come” generation. If you invite them to come walk a path with you, they will!

These principles work in business, churches, and ministries. What about a family? Aren’t you kind of stuck with those who are “on the bus?”

While we cannot change the makeup of our family teams, we can choose who to surround ourselves with through friends and adopted “uncles” and “aunties”.  We have several “surrogate” relatives that have a huge impact on our kids. We want them on the bus with our family!

Do you have the right people on the bus?