The CEO of a $2.8 billion startup says this is the most important quality a job candidate can have

Slack CEO Stewart ButterfieldSlackSlack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

Every exec has a different idea of which personality trait is most crucial to the efficiency and compatibility of a team.

For Stewart Butterfield, the cofounder of Flickr and CEO of Slack, it’s empathy that keeps his company running smoothly and succinctly.

In a recent interview with Adam Bryan of The New York Times, the CEO of what may be the fastest-growing business app of all time revealed that he likes to hire empathetic people who are willing to look out for their colleagues.

He said he realised having a team full of people with this quality is the key to a successful operation while observing really well-run restaurants, where he noticed that the waitstaff would keep an eye on each other’s tables and signal a colleague if a customer needed something.

“When we talk about the qualities we want in people, empathy is a big one,” Butterfield told Bryant. “If you can empathise with people, then you can do a good job. If you have no ability to empathise, then it’s difficult to give people feedback, and it’s difficult to help people improve. Everything becomes harder.”

But it’s not just about acting pleasant and being kind while in the office. It’s also about “trying to anticipate someone else’s needs and meeting them in advance,” he explained in the Times interview. And it’s about being courteous.

“One way that empathy manifests itself is courtesy. Respecting people’s time is important. Don’t let your colleagues down; if you say you’re going to do something, do it,” he told Bryant.

Read the full New York Times interview here.

NOW WATCH: Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack and Flickr, on two beliefs that have brought him the greatest success in life

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.