You're Never Alone at the Top if You Hire People Better than You
Loneliness and working in isolation limits collaboration and people lose sight of their objectives
In an interview, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, shared his approach to leadership style and opened up about the nature of his job. There were plenty of good insights on how he helms one of the world’s largest companies, and it is recommended that one reads it, especially because of the title that catches the eye.
"Running Apple is ‘sort of a lonely job’," says Tim Cook.
Through the years of running different businesses, there were many things I’ve learned along the way, and I believe that with the mantle of leadership, loneliness should not be one of the burdens to bear.
Loneliness and working in isolation limits collaboration and people lose sight of their objectives. There are two key factors that resonate from the success of companies regardless of industry, product, or service. They are driven by good leaders with a vision, and those leaders are supported by a stalwart, and an effective team that work towards that vision.
There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to leadership, and the following are the guidelines I personally follow that I feel will help business leaders attract the right people to create a dynamic winning team.
Mission and vision - Pay their Bills and Feed their Souls
Studies show that 80 per cent of businesses survive their first year, and those numbers drop to between 45 per cent-51 per cent at the five-year mark and only 1 in 3 make it to 10 years. There will be challenges you’re dealing with for your business, and when faced with tough times, the grass will seem greener on the other side, for your team, and even yourself. Understand that with your top performers intrinsic rewards are valued more than extrinsic rewards, and just paying them more won’t be enough for them to stay.
Your mission will guide your actions daily and consistently. Your vision will clear the fog of war as you chart your way towards a common goal. If you want a team that is dependable and resilient to stand by you, pay their bills and feed their souls.
Set a Criteria for Hiring — Establish your Base and Build their Potential
Setting the criteria for hire is crucial. For key personnel, look around and take a page from other companies and organisations that resonate with you to better identify the qualities that your team needs.
For the top-level positions for our business, we hire ex-employees from companies such as Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle. Their experience in handling large global teams, the familiarity with the pace of work, and in-depth industry knowledge made them the perfect fit.
Similarly, the people you look for should know the business, and what you stand for. At the same time, your people cannot be treated as part of the process, they are the process.
Skills and knowledge alone don’t make a good hire, John Browett, Apple’s former head of retail, who despite very strong credentials, took an approach that was not aligned with what the company stood for, resulting in a short stint. And if you hire with the right qualities in mind, you’ll be able to get the results you want, as seen when Browett’s replacement, Angela Ahrendts, took the lead. When it comes to building your team, establish your base and build their potential.
Leadership traits that need to be in line with your mission and vision
Put your Ego Aside — Hire People Better than you and let them Own it
Looking strong, always making the right decisions, and having an answer to every problem. Those are the qualities people expect of their leaders, but the caveat as with most things in life — balance.
Above all else, a leader guides the team to accomplish a goal, it is important to put your ego aside. From my experience, letting go a little goes a very long way. There are times when decisions are made and justified as a chance to “exercise leadership” in the heat of the moment, or in the interest of expediency. And upon hindsight, such decisions rarely work well for the betterment of the task at hand.
As a leader, I make it a point to hire people better than myself. Micromanaging shortchanges the leader with tunnel vision and mismanagement of time and the team member with the lack of space to exercise their skills and do their work well.
When leaders lead, and give their team members space and autonomy to exercise their skills, everyone can leave their mark on the work they do. That is when the magic happens. As a leader, you’re never alone when you hire people better than you and let them own it.