Archive for February, 2017

You’re Not the Smartest (Necessarily)

I was at a standstill in my hiring process. I had boiled down the pile of 101 applicants to two. Both candidates were well qualified for the job I had available in my department, and it was an important position – my second in command – my assistant director. Which meant, if there was a crisis management situation and I was not available, this individual would have to fill in. If someone had to speak to the media (as chief spokesperson for the organization), and I wasn’t around, it would have to be this person.

What should I do? Since my wife is one of the smartest people I know, I tossed my proverbial cards on the table while we were eating dinner, and I asked her what she thought. He first question, of course, was, which candidate did I favor?

I told her that the candidate with the Master’s degree had a slim edge, like, the thickness of the hair on my head (I’m bald).

Her response was, “why would you hire someone with a Master’s degree when you don’t have one? If you hire that person, he could eventually take your job.”

I wasn’t cocky or full of myself, but I hadn’t considered that line of thought. Even after she made that statement, I shrugged it off. I wasn’t worried about whether or not this individual’s advanced degree would someday make him more qualified than was I for the position I held. I was more interested in what was best for my team, and for the organization for which I worked.

One sign of a great leader is surrounding him or herself with other great people. My athletic coaches have always recited the mantra that the team is only as good as its weakest link. I’m not entirely certain that’s a fact because I’ve seen lots of teams with nine great players win a lot of games even though the 10th player couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

Hiring great people for your team is important for several reasons. Most importantly, you can’t do everything yourself. Even if you are  a micromanager (the worst), you can’t possibly perform all of the necessary tasks required of your department in exemplary fashion. You need to bring the best and brightest to your team in order that every area functions at the highest possible level. Why wouldn’t you want to hire the best possible person in order that the required work is completed in all-star fashion?

Second, when you bring great people to your team, you’re improving the intellectual capital of your group. These people, hopefully, don’t necessarily think about things the same way that you do – and that’s a good thing. Fresh perspectives improve creativity, and can improve efficiency when a new thought can positively impact an old challenge.

Third, credibility is critical, and sometimes that’s unfortunate. But if you’re sending your second-in-command to a department meeting in your place, you want the other individuals around that conference table to have the same respect for your colleague as they do for you. If you give your second-in-command a project to complete, you want co-workers from other departments to know that this is a quality individual who will do an outstanding job.

Finally, the person that you hire for your team is a direct reflection on you. Do you want to have to answer your boss’s questions about why this individual isn’t performing at a high level? Do you want to hire someone who extracts countless hours out of your week because you have to oversee and correct much of the work they perform? Do you want other people in the organization whispering that you hired a flunky that’s barely adequate? Or, do you want to be known as the leader who oversees a dynamic, creative, and incredible team that always exceeds expectations?



Posted by on February 9th, 2017 No Comments