Why Chemistry Trumps Competence

Let’s start with 3 traits of great people: character, chemistry and competence. There’s no doubt character is the most important, but which one comes next: chemistry or competence?

We live in a world that glorifies talent: athletes, celebrities, musicians, etc. But take a deeper look at winning teams. Sure, there’s always a great player or two, yet it’s the chemistry of all, not the competence of a few that makes the difference.

As a business owner, I experienced this recently: my wife and I interviewed candidates for a marketing intern position [for my company]. Resumes don’t mean much to me, interviews do. Confidence, communication skills and authenticity are all nonverbal cues revealed in a conversation. Sure, I was looking for certain answers, but “how” the message was delivered was more important
Experience can be overrated. Why do you need 10 years of experience in the same field to be successful? All that says is you stayed in the same job for 10 years. Instead, look for a diverse amount of experience in different fields so others know you’ve tried a variety of skill sets and worked with a vast amount of personalities.
Chemistry trumps competence because I’ve met a lot of talented people who are jerks.
Chemistry trumps competence because I want to work with someone I actually like.
Chemistry trumps competence because “fit” is more important than skills.
Sure, competence matters, but if you’re the most talented person at your company, yet no one wants to work with you – you’re on an island that no one wants to visit. Skills can be taught. Humility comes with the package. Your attitude is what counts. It’s more important that you want to learn, rather than think you know it all.  

Personally, I’d take the less talented person over the high performer if I know they play well with others and are hungry to learn. That’s my opinion, what do you think?  

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