Chapter 36You Can't Make People What They Are Not!

The Challenge

Many leaders, in their quest to elevate a nonperformer heroically into a contributor, overlook one of the first rules of people development: I can help make you more of what you are, but I can't make you something you're not. There are key and critical success factors you cannot change about others, nor can you teach them to others. If you have people on your team lacking these traits, then the time, training, and motivational efforts you invest in them will bring little or no return. Thus, it's essential that you hire people who bring these assets to the table. This chapter will outline six such traits to look for when hiring someone into your organization. These traits are also a useful template to assess the growth potential of those already on your team.

Good News and Not-So-Good News

First, the good news: There are two key things you can teach others (skills and knowledge). In fact, the definition of teach is “to impart knowledge of or skill in” (, n.d.). You can teach technical skills, closing skills, knowledge of a product or system, and the like.

Now, the not-so-good-news: The following six traits are factors you cannot change about someone, put inside someone, or even effectively teach to someone. To maximize performance, these traits must be hired in and then developed with consistent coaching and within a strong culture.

  1. Talent. Defined as “a special or natural ability or aptitude” ...

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