Why one CEO likes to hire people who don't take all the credit for their success

StumbleUpon CEO Mark BartelsStumbleUponStumbleUpon CEO Mark Bartels.

Everybody wants to hire stars. But StumbleUpon CEO Mark Bartels isn’t looking for people who shine alone — instead, he prioritises candidates who are true collaborators.

Which isn’t to dismiss the value of people who thrive alone. “You always want different types of people that you’re working with, and individual contributors are great,” Bartels tells Business Insider. “They’re very productive, and they can have very high output.” There’s just one limitation: ultimately, they’re only one person.

That’s why he looks for what he calls “enablers” — people who are not only high achievers, but also make everyone around them better. “You hire one person,” he explains, “but then that one person goes on and trains and shares ideas with three other people.” The result is “a way more productive team” — and fewer single points of failure.

In their natural habitats, enablers “tend to collaborate a lot,” says Bartels. “They communicate a lot with other groups outside their particular pod. You’ll see them programming with other engineers, they seem to want to organise meetups, and they tend to want to share trade secrets if it gets the job done faster.” They’re less protective of their own knowledge, and as a result, they “empower people around them.”

But it’s one thing to appreciate enablers in action, and another to spot them during the hiring process, before you’ve had the chance to see them in action.

In Bartels’ experience, though, there’s an easy tell: “Look for the words they use,” he advises. While individual contributors tend to talk about “I” and “me,” enablers rely on phrases like “we,” “us,” and “team.” “When you ask them about a project, they will talk about the team, and a lot of the time, they will give credit to other people,” he says. “And I don’t see that as a weakness — I see that as a positive.”

NOW WATCH: Mark Cuban: Why perfection in business is a bad thing

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.