Many hiring experts advocate hiring people with greater capability than yourself, as a way of growing your department, company, even yourself. Yet, in 25 years of headhunting, I’ve seen many high level executives be intimidated by the real go-getters. The one word feedback I sometimes get after submitting an “A+” player is “arrogant.” Yet, I have often perceived the candidate as “very confident” a trait you’d expect in a top performer, but not arrogant. Google turns up over 7 million hits to the string “hiring AND ‘better than yourself’”, and one of those is a three-year old piece by Guy Kawasaki. I agree with just about everything Guy says in this piece on recruiting from January, 2006.

To hire below yourself, and/or not hire complementary skill sets to your own – filling in around your shortcomings – immediately positions you to NOT be an “A” player yourself. Leaders know that having the best around them will almost always pay off, and they are willing to take a leap to get the “A+” person. I think this is a critical ingredient to being a good leader.


For more insights, be sure to visit the Headhunter's Secret Guide!


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Comment by Mitch Sullivan on October 21, 2011 at 8:10am

"If you hire people bigger than yourself, you'll be a company of giants. If you hire people smaller than yourself, you'll be a company of dwarfs." - David Ogilvy

Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 22, 2011 at 10:21pm

@Mitch--I agree with the metaphor you're using here in the grand scheme of hiring better people for better results.  However, in a literal sense, Ogilvy pissed-off a lot of relatively short and truly short people in his quote cited here.

@Mark--a categorical A+ player brought into a "B" or "C" operating  company can deflate that rating and that player big time if the culture says one thing but does another.  How many of us recruiters are on the phone with "A" players wanting out of such poor performing companies?  I think plenty. 

Plus don't be too quick to fawn over "A" players because "B" players and rabid "C" on paper can vault into "A" performances if given the right opportunity at the right time.  I'm particularly speaking of current employees quite capable of turning in "A" performances if give the opportunity and support to bring in desired results.


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