Admittedly, of the 25+ managers I’ve had over my career, less than five were confident enough to recruit people that were more knowledgeable than them. Despite having huge egos, many CEOs and executive leaders feel threatened when surrounded by smarter people. It’s a shame because there are so many reasons this makes no sense. To a person, the few managers that had the courage to admit they didn’t know it all were universally considered exception leaders. Here’s why:
- Humility is an attractive trait. Admitting what you don’t know actually demonstrates far more intelligence than trying to bluff. People can see right through you and you lose respect quickly.
- You learn from smart people. I’ve never heard anyway say they grew professionally or intellectually by hanging around stupid people or even people as bright as you. It’s like playing tennis. The better the opponent, the better your game.
- Your job becomes much easier. Let’s face it. If you hire smart, highly motivated people, you can pretty much leave them alone. You don’t have to micromanage them, they know what they have to do and they only come to you when they really need management support.
- Turnover goes down. When you have a team of really smart people, it can energize your entire department. Not only are you learning, but so is everyone else. One reason many people choose to leave an organization or transfer out is because they no longer feel challenged. Trust me, put a Steve Jobs on your team, and you won’t have to worry about that.
- Bad ideas won’t get executed. When you surround yourself with people at your level or below, they tend to agree with everything you say. This may feel good and feed your ego, but it’s dangerous. Look at corporate America today and ask yourself how many really stupid initiatives were executed because no one had the guts to tell the truth.
It takes a lot of confidence to hire and recruit the best and brightest, but in the long run, your team, your organization and your company will reap the benefits for many years to come.