The two most significant indicators that a team can be great are its level of grit and the strength of its glue.

Great teams need to bring in people who value being challenged over being comfortable, one of America’s leading experts on recruiting has found, putting in canine terms who the best organizations want and who they should avoid. From studying athletic teams, colleges, school districts, and businesses, Brad Black, the president and CEO of HUMANeX Ventures, says teams “need to bring in more terriers and avoid poodles.”

Black measures two key components of great teams: the depth of their grit, and the strength of their glue. Grit measures how a team drives ahead, responding to adversity and constantly improving its performance. Glue measures how a group sticks together, how its members coalesce into an effective team, especially in tough times.

From his decades of studying and assessing great teams, Black concludes they know how important it is to bring in and retain the right individuals. Black says great teams recruit “terriers” who show determination, perseverance, have high expectations, and are constantly learning and improving. Terriers push each other and bring passion to the workplace on a daily basis.

“Terriers don’t give up,” Black told me. “They bring the grit.”

Certainly the great sports teams have that spirit. HUMANeX has measured hundreds of professional and college athletic teams and Black compared terriers to the most driven athletes.

“When I recruited for companies I worked with, I saw terriers as the one where you ask them to do something and they tear into the job and do it phenomenally,” Black told me. “They treat life as if they are walk-on athletes every day instead of thinking they’re the players on scholarship. Terriers are going to scrap, they’re going to fight and they’re going to win.”



A pampered poodle. (SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP/Getty Images)

Black said people with grit are constantly hungry for challenges and work through them. Terriers don’t rest on their laurels as they search for the next challenges.

“They don’t get comfortable,” Blake said. “They take the stairs and not the elevator.”

Russ Rose, the head coach who has led Penn State University women’s volleyball team to seven NCAA championships, epitomizes the terrier spirit.

“I never wear a ring from a previous championship because once the banquet is over, I begin focusing on the next season,” Rose told me. His office doesn’t contain any of his seven NCAA championship trophies and his grandson even traded one of his championship rings to another child for a marble. “It was an awesome marble,” Rose assured me.

Black applauds Rose’s attitude which has helped build a great team at Penn State. “The best thing you can do is put your rings away,” Black said, offering a reminder that great teams don’t sleep in their trophy rooms. They are constantly chasing greatness, one of the reasons why terriers are such good fits on great teams.

In contrast to terriers, Black says “poodles” have a fixed mind set and think their talent and credentials are more important than grinding it out on daily basis.

“Poodles are more concerned with who they are and where they’ve been,” Black said. “They’re proud of where they’ve gone to school, reminding you who they know and they think they’re finished products. Terriers are a work in progress.”

Grit can help great teams rise above the competition but, as Black noted, organizations also need glue to hold it all together. We’ll look at that component of great teams another time. <Did you curate this story too? You could link to it from here>


This article was written by Don Yaeger from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.