How to Attract Dream Team Members

Shot of a group of corporate businesspeople meeting in the boardroom

By Howard Partridge

So far in this series, we’ve talked about the eight steps to building a phenomenal dream team as well as how to find dream team members to add to your team. In this article, I will share how to attract people to join your team to begin with so you can then find and build your team effectively.

Remember, first you need to show up in the marketplace as a leader, not a boss. Unfortunately, many business owners have taken their clues from corporate bosses. They see people as “human resources.” Instead of viewing them from a leader’s perspective, they look at their team as nothing more than cogs in the wheel of business. As such, the dynamic becomes “Come in and do what I say, but don’t ask me why.”

Business owners subconsciously broadcast a message of superiority, or of desperation. Neither of which will attract people who will be the right team members. Even those who have the right attitude toward team members largely ignore the people around them.

Remember that finding and attracting team members is no different than attracting clients. How do you want clients to see you? The answer is simple: As someone who is trustworthy, caring, competent, and has follow-through.

Similarly, if you are a good marketer, you have an “avatar” or what we call a “buyer persona” of your perfect target market. If you don’t, I suggest you become a student of marketing before moving forward as a leader.

The same concept should apply to your team acquisition process. Do you have an avatar of whom you are looking for as a dream team member?

In my experience of working with thousands of business owners for many years, the list goes something like this:

  1. Successful
  2. Good work ethic
  3. Positive attitude
  4. Great appearance
  5. Intelligent
  6. Honest and trustworthy
  7. Loyal
  8. Organized
  9. Takes initiative
  10. A potential leader.

Would you agree that this list of 10 items sums up the type of person you want to attract? I’d hazard a guess that you’re nodding in agreement right now.

Here’s the secret. The individual that has those characteristics is looking for someone with the same qualities.

1 | Successful

Do you seem successful to others? You don’t want to put on an act, but people are attracted to those who are going somewhere. Why would they want to get on your “business bus” if you are always complaining about how bad business is, the weather, and any other gripe you have? The answer is that they won’t. People want to work with someone who is going somewhere. Having said this, share your goals and vision with your team and prospects openly.

2 | Good work ethic

No one likes a lazy boss. If you want someone to work hard, they need to see that you work hard as well. Although I don’t have to work at all, I still outwork most people I know. I get more done by noon than most people get done all day long. As you grow, the type of work you do changes. The work I do is not manual, but when I was working in my cleaning business, no one could outwork me either. It’s the sign of a true leader when you can do any position in your company comfortably and swiftly.

3 | Positive attitude

Dale Carnegie created 30 principles in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The first one is “Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain.” If you want to attract people with a positive attitude, you need to be positive. My mentor, the late Zig Ziglar, was the ultimate positive thinker, but you might be surprised by one of his quotes: “You can’t do anything with a positive attitude, but you can do everything better with a positive attitude than you can with a negative one.”

4 | Great appearance

As I grew my cleaning business, I decided to always be dressed well. I was after high-end clients, so of course, we had amazing uniforms. But when I was out marketing in the community, I always wore a sports coat and sometimes a tie.

At one point, we had a small network of cleaners that met every Monday morning to talk about how to improve our industry. Of course, I was already out marketing and networking before I even arrived at the meeting, and I was wearing my sports coat, a tie, and a positive attitude the entire time. All of them except for one were not dressed for success. Some were wearing cut-off blue jeans, flip flops, and hadn’t even shaved. They laughed at me and joked “Who do you think you are, Zig Ziglar?” True story!

I did not even know Zig Ziglar at the time. For the past decade, I’ve been working closely with the Ziglar organization and helping his son Tom run the Ziglar company.

The exception to that group, was a guy named Jim Bardwell. Jim was fed up with the negativity in the carpet cleaning industry. He wanted what I had. He was attracted to what I brought to the table. He joined my team and worked for me for eight years. He helped me develop my referral marketing program which has become the gold standard for the cleaning industry. Today, he runs a high-level fabric protection business, and he serves as a coach and trainer for me to this day. Not to mention, he is one of my best friends in the entire world. It just goes to show how your outward appearance can attract the right team organically.

5 | Intelligent

Leadership expert Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called The Ideal Team Player. In that book, he revealed that the ideal team player had three important qualities: They are humble, hungry, and smart. Smart means “people-smart.” Not a high IQ, but a high EQ, which refers to an individual’s Emotional Intelligence. In other words, a person is aware of how they are coming across to others. All of business and all of life is about relationships. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care about them. People are attracted to you by the way you treat them and how they observe you treating others. Jim was attracted to me because of how much I cared about our industry, not because of how much I knew. In fact, I barely got out of high school. The difference is empathy and an understanding of how to attract people with your charisma.

6 | Honest and trustworthy

What is your reputation as a business owner in the community? Does your track record show you can be trusted? A large-scale leadership study revealed that more than anything else, employees look for honesty in leaders. Be someone they can trust and don’t hide things from your team to stay close-knit and succeed together.

7 | Loyal

If you want to attract people who are loyal, you must be loyal. Does your reputation exude that? When I first began to work with Ziglar, my role was the exclusive small business coach for Ziglar. Tom was invited to Australia to speak to about twelve hundred business owners. Of course, I couldn’t let him go without his newly found business coach. Plus, Australia was on my wife’s bucket list. My wife and my son joined Tom and his 17-year-old daughter Alexandra.

During the trip, I made sure that I treated the proud daughter of the proud son of American legend Zig Ziglar with the utmost respect and care. After Tom spoke to the big group, he and I did some breakouts. I felt bad about Alexandra having to just sit in the back row and I asked her to come to the front of the room to write the topics on the whiteboard. The poise that came from 12 years of ballet kicked in as she smiled and listed everything out (with much better handwriting writing than mine or Tom’s, I might add).

We had four sessions that day. Every session, I called Alexandra up to the front of the room to write on the board. What I didn’t know is that she didn’t want to go in front of the room. She wanted to remain anonymous in the back row. After the first time I called her up there, she told Tom to tell me not to ask her to do it. Tom forgot to tell me. I had no idea because she was so professional about it.

Second session. I called her up, and she mean mugged her dad without anyone else knowing it. After the second session, she went to her dad and forcefully declared “Please tell Howard not to call me up there!” At the end of the sessions, people would go up to Tom to talk to him, and people were talking to me. So, Tom was so distracted, he forgot to tell me again.

Third session, according to Tom, nuclear warheads were coming out of her eyes toward him as she was walking to the front of the room. Of course, no one knew except him. After the third session, she grabbed Tom by both hands, looked into his eyes and growled “Tell Howard not to call on me. OK?!”

Tom didn’t tell me.

For the fourth session, as I called on Alexandra, she was gone. I looked in the back row where she had been sitting, and she was not there! Then, suddenly, I saw her next to me with a marker in her hand with a big smile on her face. She was sitting in the front row, and I didn’t even notice! She was ready and happy to do it this time.

What happened?

Between the sea change of attendees in these back-to-back breakout sessions, these wonderful, positive, fun Australians had also been interacting with Alexandra. She enjoyed the attention and literally came out of her shell by the time the final session came around.

It was a powerful moment in her life and in her dad’s life. Meanwhile, it was quite literally accidental on my part, but because I have the value of recognizing people and getting them involved, she benefitted greatly from it.

Tom, Alexandra, and I really bonded on that trip, and I continued to recognize her every chance I got. I sent flowers on her birthday and added value however I could when I saw her at the office.

Over the next five years, she saw how loyal I was to her family business that she decided she wanted to work for me. At the time of this writing, Alexandra has been with me five years and is the most loyal team member you could ever ask for. She handles all of my work with the Zig Ziglar companies and more.

Plus, she gets to carry on the Ziglar legacy. Who better to take it into the future than a young, talented, loyal Ziglar? And, she is one of my best friends. I even had a part in her wedding!

You attract people by the way you treat them. And to quote Alexandra Ziglar’s grandfather once more, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

8 | Organized

No one wants to work for a slob. Clean up your desk. Clean up your truck. If you want someone who is organized, you need to be organized, even if you aren’t naturally organized. This includes yourself as well. Make sure you don’t just dress well but groom well and keep your outfit clean throughout the day. An organized person can tell the difference, trust me.

9 | Takes initiative

Just like you want people who are self-starters, so do they. People want to follow someone who has a vision. Leadership is effectively communicating your vision. If you have a meaningful vision that includes room for others, you’ll attract people who are hungry to grow.

10 | A potential leader

Speaking of growth, there are 12 important roles in any business. Implementing marketing, sales, service, and accounting are part of these roles. Supervising those four areas and planning those areas is crucial. Most small business owners try to wear all 12 of those hats. You can’t do it and grow—and be sane. When people see you as a leader worthy of following, you will attract potential leaders that can run your company for you.

As I write this article, I am sitting on the back porch swing of my dream home at the beach, overlooking the pristine lake on the other side of the house. Meanwhile, my cleaning business is humming along. Clients are being served well. Team members are happy and advancing. Moreover, we are super profitable. Who could ask for more?

Again, if you have a dream, but no team, you must give up the dream. Or, you can build up the team! I’m grateful I chose the latter. It is a great joy to watch our team members succeed.

I wish the same for you.


Howard Partridge started his cleaning business out of the trunk of his car over 37 years ago and transformed it into a multi-million-dollar operation. For the past 25 years, his training and coaching firm has helped thousands of small businesses around the world dramatically their performance. Visit www.HowardPartridge.com.

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