“As the leader, you should be the smartest person at the company, and your job is to tell others what to do.”
Did you make a face when you read that? I hope so! Hiring people because their primary attribute is that they will do as they’re told is not great leadership.
Here’s a better idea: create a company culture that encourages growth and success. Provide the resources needed to achieve great things. Attract people that are smarter than you.
I’m not talking about someone with a higher IQ or who has more years of formal education. By “smarter,” I mean an active contributor who helps you see things in new ways.
Hire “Smarter” Than You
Look for someone who, at the right place and time, will think out of the box for everyone’s benefit.
- Temptation: Hire people who are less skilled so they can learn your way of doing business.
- Better idea: Hire highly capable people, and learn more about how to make your business more successful.
- Temptation: Hire someone who will tell you that you are right and your ideas are best.
- Better idea: Hire someone who will make your ideas better.
- Temptation: Hire people who can adapt quickly to the system you have in place.
- Better idea: Hire people who can solve problems and improve processes. These people will identify problems you didn’t know you had. They will save you time and costs in hiring an outside consultant to solve them later.
- Temptation: Hire people who are good at following directions.
- Better idea: Hire people who take ownership of their work and are capable of innovation. They will find better ways to do things so everyone benefits.
Make Sure Smart People Want to Stay
I’ve found that the successful leadership of smart people is supported by two important things.
- A designed company culture: You can’t run a successful business with a default culture. At Brigade, I designed our culture to ensure investment in the cultivation of future leaders within the firm. Everyone can become a leader within our small organization, and we want to tap into our team’s inner talent.
- A strong leadership style: I’ve adopted a leadership style called Transformational Leadership. It’s one where we have a high level of employee engagement and values that govern our corporate culture—and I am the leader behind this transformation.
It took me a while to realize that wishing my employees would just do their jobs wasn’t helping anyone. Hiring “smarter than you” means you are hiring for the good of your company because you are hiring future leaders. You can confidently ask smarter people to think out-of-the-box and contribute to the organization in growth-minded and self-directed ways. I highly recommend it.