It is against human nature to hire people better than you. We are competitive beings and do not want our egos damaged. That is why we must make a conscious effort to seek out team members who are greater than us. After all, the reason why we are delegating a responsibility in the first place is so that we ourselves can focus on something else.
The wisdom to hire people better than you is not a new idea. In the book The Essays of Warren Buffet, Lessons for Corporate America, Buffet shares how his company models the philosophy of David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather. Known as the “Father of Advertising”, Ogilvy said that “If each of us hire people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants”.
How to hire people better than you
To put this philosophy into practice, you first must be willing to accept that you are not the best. This humbling practice is key to empowering your team. When you are open to hiring people better than you in a respective area, they will organically have confidence in themselves and operate effectively with minimal oversight.
Hiring the best is difficult for many reasons. First, it can be easy to sacrifice quality for the sake of finding someone quickly to fill a position. Second, your own bias towards an agreeable candidate may interfere with making the best possible decision.
In order to hire people better than you, it’s important to have a structured and consistent hiring process across all candidates. This will enable your team to look at a situation more objectively. Further, it’s necessary to balance a person’s past experiences with their capacity to learn new things. Hiring somebody who is better than you at something today is certainly beneficial, but it’s often more important to address a person’s capacity to “sharpen their saw” and surpass you in the future.
When you seek to hire people that are better than you, your team will prosper. And the first step is being open to doing so. We must set aside our egos of being the best and look to the greater good of building something that will outlive us. Once we accept the challenge to pursue those who are better than us, we can turn this into a reality.
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