Balancing Skills

Looking for the right skills is as important, as identifying the right attitude.

Hire for attitude, train for skills. — Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has chosen the right words. Still, ninety percent gets it wrong. People need the right attitude to fit into your team, but even the nicest person with the best intents won't do you any good, with the wrong skills.

The right mixture wins. You also want the people who are "only doing their work". Not everybody wants to be a leader and inspire others. That's fine.

Diverse in Attitude

When building a house you also don't only want foremen. You would hire masons, carpenters, plumbers and whatever you may need to build your nice house.

Diversity makes a team interesting and fun. Innovation will be hard if everyone on the team agrees all the time. Conflict is necessary. Of course in constructive and safe environment.

By throwing in multiple views, different career paths and a mix of experiences you can reach a better outcome.

If you are putting together what you've always put together, you will get what you've always got. Mix up different people with different backgrounds and see what they have to bring to the table.

The T-shaped Professional

Specialists are fine to get the job done. One job. Exactly one job.

Markets change, requirements change. What are you now doing with the specialist who is good at one thing. Let him do other work? How dare you!?

There is a time and place for specialists, but usually not in our agile team. Especially not for this mindset.

Besides the right mindset, you will need a multitude of skills. But you only have a budget for four developers. What do you do?

You are looking for T-Shaped professionals.

It's about the letter "T". Imagine the vertical bar as the strong in-depth knowledge, whereas the horizontal bar represents the broader knowledge and the areas where people can support and collaborate, but may not have the biggest knowledge.

Now you can start to draw. What are the vertical bars you need? Where do you need really profound knowledge? Where do you need just broad knowledge? Where does it make sense that they overlap?

Do this exercise with your team and see how you are set up and where you want to be. You can see what's missing and look for that in interviews. Or where your team may need some training.

The "T" you can also directly use in an interview and talk with a candidate about their skills and how they match to your need. And in which direction they may want to grow.


There is no value in looking for the mastermind leader when you don't know what skills you are exactly looking for. The right mix of diversity, knowledge, motivation, creativity and personality wins, neither skills nor attitude alone.

I hope this post gave you a good idea on how to figure out what skillset you want and need in your organization. If you need help with building a great team, don't hesitate to contact me.

Daniel Hauck

Daniel Hauck