To Be the Best, Recruit the Best

Great leaders aren't afraid to hire people who are smarter and more talented than they are

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Alfred Edmond Jr. 

Alfred Edmond Jr.

If you are the smartest, most talented, most expert on a team that YOU assembled–YOU LOSE. (And you could be an idiot.)

Great leaders are smart enough to recruit people who are smarter and more talented than they are in their respective areas of expertise. They recognize that they only need to be the best and smartest at leadership–not at everything or anything else.

By contrast, mediocre leaders are threatened by the idea that people on their team may know more or be more talented than they are. So they hire people that they can feel superior to.

Does that make he or she the dominant person on their team? Probably. But is that a team that can dominate the competition? Absolutely not. (For one thing, the leader is likely to end up second-guessing, doing or redoing everybody else’s work.)

As a coach/general manager, why would I want a quarterback, lineman, running back or wide receiver who is no better at their job than I am? As a leader, I believe in surrounding myself with people who are the best at what they do–and who know more than I know about their particular areas of expertise and the skills required to excel at their positions. Also, by hiring the best, I am surrounded by real experts who can educate me on the different roles and challenges of each position, which makes me a better, smarter leader.

During my nearly two decades as one of the top people in my profession, I have almost never been the smartest person in the room, the person with the most experience or education, or the most talented person on my team. (I have been accused of being among the hardest-working. Guilty as charged.) My career success is chiefly the result of my ability to control my ego and my insecurities, and having enough sense to know that it’s far more important to lead the best team, than it is to be the best person on the team.

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com

  • DaGameisBigga

    All that sounds good theoretically. But I see some holes in practical implementation. First, ‘the best’ don’t want to work for you, they want to work for a big company with a big name and potentially a big salary for them. Secondly, when you have a room of people or even a couple of ‘the best’ each wants to be HNIC. Third, no one that thinks of themselves as ‘the best’ will follow you unless you’ve been publicly acclaimed. If they don’t recognize you from some award or TV, then they have no respect and again won’t follow or work for you. The list goes on …

    • With due respect. I disagree with the first commenter. This is a typical example of media obsession. People go by only what they see on TV or hear on radio. The fact of the matter is that many of the most successful or richest companies, world over, are not the ones being profiled in the media all the time. They don’t need the TV or radio hypes to survive. And the best experts don’t need ‘media shout-outs’ either. So, for anyone to say only the best are being mentioned in the media. That is nonsense.

      And the best who have confident in themselves don’t have to work for so-called big corporations to make it. In fact, if one is being featured in the media, it is not necessarily means that one is the best, it could be a paid-promotion.

      Finally, the real best would tell reporters: “no comment or I don’t grant interviews because I don’t need the publicity to make a living”. FYI, a sizeable amount of richest corporations are private entities. The so-called Fortune 500 applies to those who traded publicly.

  • DaGameisBigga

    That was an attempt at a rebuttal. Your article talks about leaders and individuals and I responded to such, yet your rebuttal refers to the largest and richest companies.

    Therein lies an important human frailty. Instead of properly debating the points by comparing apples to apples, you bring oranges into it. thereby confusing the reader. Go back and respond to the points.

  • Great article! I have been in this type of situation numerous times. I’ve worked for fortune 500 companies where most of the people at the top did not know much about marketing and did not even have a degree for that matter. It was often a hard situation for myself because I have an MBA but have yet to reach the salary potential of my credentials or experience. Because these executives knew what they knew and had no idea of how the new innovative ways of marketing worked, they hired young creative minds that definitely knew more but unless someone died or retired would never make more. My frustration came when I did realize that I knew more than almost every single boss I’ve ever had, but still made less. I left corporate because of that and decided to become an author(A2Z Inspirational Marketing)and college professor and a person who was unable to conform to what we know as the right thing to do to run a company. Which is hire the best! This makes since but it very hard to handle being a young person who knows their worth.

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