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