My wife, Nicki, and I were lucky enough to go on a six day ocean kayaking trip south of the Queen Charlotte Islands a number of years ago.  

We saw nothing but big country, lots of rain, and tons of wildlife including whales, eagles and dolphins.  As well, it provided us the opportunity to take a step back and get a bigger picture of the world.  

Specifically, in the case of our group of five kayakers, it was a chance to take stock of an amazing individual, Rick Snowdon, and the traits that make me want to have someone like him on my team, no matter what business I’m in.
I recruit for and provide leadership advice to small and mid-sized software firms.  The issues these companies face in today’s hyper-competitive market demands continuous excellence.  This starts and ends, with the people you work with and this excellence was embodied in our guide, Rick. 

He is co-owner and one of the guides for an outfitter called Spirit of the West and I would jump over barrels to have someone like Rick work for me.  Here’s why.
A Quiet Confidence
Some people have an innate bravado, usually built on some insecurity that demands that everyone around them knows how good, rich, or important they are.  Others go about life with a quiet sense of mission, getting the job done with little fanfare but exuding professionalism and strength in everything they do.  I’m a big believer in humility over bravado. 

Jim Collins ‘Good to Great’ describes it well in his definition of “Level 5 Leadership”.  It’s the ability to channel one’s ego away from yourself and into a larger goal.  Rick was like that – steady, always capable and continually manifesting confidence.

Do the individuals you’re interviewing look out for others or for themselves? Are they self-aggrandizing or do they support the ‘we’, the team? Do they use ‘I’ a whole lot more than ‘we’ when they’re describing their accomplishments?
Smart and Inquisitive
Rick had a degree in Outdoor Management with a Science focus.  There truly wasn’t anything he didn’t know when asked about the nature all around us.  He’d been on this trip scores of times but you could see that the big outdoors and the wonder of nature never ceased to amaze him.  

Are the people you are interviewing inquisitive of the world around them?  Do they read about your industry, about people and what motivates them?  Do they read books, go to concerts, see movies that expand their day-to-day reach. 
A Desire to Serve
On our six day trip, there wasn’t a time that Rick wasn’t in motion and showing a willingness to help out.  No matter what the job he was eager to help, guide, support or inform.

Do the people you meet give back to their community, their peers, their church, mosque, or synagogue?  Are they action-oriented or thinkers only?
Taking Responsibility
There was never a moment when Rick wasn’t looking for ways to help out and take responsibility for us as a group.  Whether it was going from kayak to kayak talking about what we were seeing, or checking on how we were doing or shimmying up a tree in flip-flops to put up a tarp our safety and comfort were his primary concerns. 

We had stopped for lunch on a small exposed island and suddenly the wind changed drastically It picked up in intensity and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in the span of minutes.  We had gone from a comfortable lunch to being in trouble.  Rick was there in the freezing cold water helping steady the kayaks as they smashed against the rocks, assisting us as we got into the boats in very unsteady seas.  

Do the people you are interviewing take responsibility for those around them?  Are they in it for themselves or does the success of the team mean more to them than their own personal gain?
I felt honoured to have had the chance to witness the majesty of our country in those six days on the ocean.  I feel lucky to have spent it with this very special individual.  I want more Rick’s on my team!