The Seven C’s of Choosing Staff or Leaders

As I work with and choose leaders, there are key aspects that are important to consider.  Years ago, my mentor, Dr. Gordon Stephens talked about three areas: Character, Competencies and Chemistry.  I also heard the first three, plus one additional, Culture, in a conference with Andy Stanley at Northpoint Community Church a few years ago.

There are three more C’s, I would like to add to the list along with some key questions in this blog post. This will assist us as we are choosing staff or appointing leaders on our board, business and other volunteer service areas.

When choosing leaders so much of it has to do with:

  • Character

These are people whose values and beliefs are not just talked about they are lived out in their lives.  They have integrity, honesty and strength of who they are in their everyday decisions and interactions with people.  A few years ago my Mother gave me a birthday card with me sitting on my Grandpa Pifer’s lap when I was about 18 months old.  He was one of my heroes growing up along with my Dad and my other Grandfather.  The card was surrounded with three words: Honesty, strength and integrity.  Words of character lived out in these men’s lives were modelled for me. I also want to be known as a leader of godly character.

Key Question:  Is this person growing in and known for Christ-like character and integrity?


  • Calling

For some, this might be passion since it is such a popular word in our daily culture.  Calling is much deeper because passion can run out when the going gets tough.  A called person is persevering, they are focused.  They have been designed uniquely by God to fill the needs and develop the area of responsibility they have been assigned.  Calling is multi-dimensional.  It involves a person’s choice, their energy, skills, makeup and giftedness coming together in a God-given desire to contribute and serve the cause of Christ with clear commitment. This goes beyond moving somewhere for a job or comfortable ministry.  Fulfilling a calling can be painful, inconvenient. The motto of the called person, “If I can’t do this I die; I am willing to pay the price.”

Key Questions:  Is this person called to this role or do they see this as just another job? Are they willing to pay the price? 


  • Chemistry

This aspect is important because you want a person you are introducing to fit, contribute, and have a vital role in strengthening your team. Will they click with the other team members and mix well to assist the staff to move ahead to pursue the organization’s vision, mission and goals?  Find out how they react under pressure from others and whether they are an explosive mix or when added to the team they contribute to a healthy environment. Will adding them produce a synergy of relationships?

Key Question – Will they add to the mix of the team or will they disrupt and cause unnecessary tension and an explosion?


  • Culture

When hiring someone you need to consider the culture they are coming from and the culture they are coming to in your decision.  Do they understand what you do as an organization? What are the traditions of that business or institution?  Traditions, develop in new and older organizations. We all have them.  Will this person be able to fit into the current culture? Will they match up with the mores, shared beliefs and practices of the team?

In the church setting do they line up with the doctrinal statement, philosophy of ministry, vision, mission and ministry priorities set out by the Pastor and Elders’ board?   Attitudes also have to be taken into account along with their skills, education and expertise.  One thing you have to question is whether their qualifications, educational training and experiences stretch our current culture to align us for greater mission effectiveness and growth.

Key Questions – Will they be able to adapt, learn and grow in our culture?  Will they also stretch us to have a healthier staff culture?


  • Competencies

These are the skills and the abilities that people bring to the position to fulfil the requirements of a given job.  Look at their experience and education.  Find out who they have worked under to determine where their strengths and skills have benefitted others.  What have been their strengths and accomplishments in serving previous organizations?  What have they done?  In recent years one of the most important factors to consider is the Emotional intelligence (EI) or relational intelligence of a person as a competency.

Key Question: Do they have the skills, abilities, training and emotional intelligence to get the job done? 

  • Cognitive Abilities

As we seek staff members, we want them to be able to think, research, develop strategy, set goals, tactics and adapt while being in alignment with the mission and vision of the organization.  Does their knowledge puff them up?  Are they still teachable? Are they “lifelong learners” who have a submissive attitude rather than one of pride or superiority?  Just because a person is an expert in one area does not make them an expert in every field.  That is why good leaders will have smarter people around them to complete and improve their team IQ.  Those using their knowledge will also demonstrate wisdom in their tasks and interactions with others.  It is not about the educational degrees a person possesses but how much they have applied their education and experience to life. In other words are they “know it alls” or are they wise?

Key Questions:  Do their knowledge, experience and education translate into wise living? Are they still teachable? 

  • Christ-Centeredness

The last aspect as I am looking for leaders is a Christ-centered or God-focused life.  Who is the centre of their life?  Who motivates them? What is the purpose of their life?  Do they have strong Biblical values?  Tough questions,  but if we are to have the right people on our teams we need people who definitely have Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives especially in the church.  Christ must be the centre as the Apostle Paul relates in Galatians 2:20.  Faith in Christ produces faithful people who are available to the work, ministry and perform not for themselves but as servants of Jesus Christ.  If Christ is indeed Lord, their attitudes are different as well.  They pulse with the life of Christ, and it is contagious to others around them.   Christ-centered leaders leave self-centred leaders in the dust.

But what about business leaders making choices about people.  Sure people who have Jesus Christ should bring an advantage to your company.  If this is not the case for you. What are the values demonstrated by a potential hire?  Where do their beliefs come from? Why do they make the choices they make? Who are they following and why? Getting to these questions determine who is really the master of their life.  You do not want someone self-absorbed but someone who is other focused.

Key Questions:  Who is at the centre of this person’s life?  Does their talk, attitudes, actions and habits demonstrate a Christ focused life? 

If you have further questions. Let me know.  If I can coach you with some tools or help in your search for the right staff people in your church or organization I will be glad to assist or direct you to the right people.

For now, I hope the seven C’s of hiring will help you in the search for the right people for your team or organization.


Author: Robin W. Pifer

Follower of Jesus Christ, Husband, Father, Chief (Grandfather of 4) Lead Pastor Oxford Baptist Church - Woodstock, Church Leadership Coach and Consultant, John Maxwell Team Member, BTH, MBA, PHD Candidate

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