I read an article a while ago titled “How to Manage People Who are Smarter than you” shared by one of my connections on LinkedIn…the same connection that didn’t reply to a humble request for a meeting.
Suddenly, I started thinking about the gesture of acknowledging the fact of acquiring, retaining or even confessing the existence of smart employees within an organization. Wouldn’t admitting the smartness of employees cut off a boss’ nose? Why would bosses help employees who might replace them some day? I’ve seen this thinking spread like a virus, reaching deadly levels.
Managers, CEOs, directors and other senior level executives are suppressing smart employees’ progress, fearing that they might outdo them. Instead, they go on promoting B to Z players to key positions, thus ruining the progress of their enterprise, which serves a justification to cut off the As and hence safeguard their existence.
A while back, I met one of these newly promoted people. Although his incompetent reputation had preceded him, I wanted to keep an open mind and not fall prey to what may just be rumors. However, in less than two minutes, he proved the rumors to be more than just that. He avoided any and all work related questions by saying “I don’t talk business on Thursdays” – or any other day apparently.
So what happens when these young talents leave to smarter competitors or to startup companies? Wouldn’t they threaten them and soon knock them off their thrones? Guy Kawazaki once said: “Steve Jobs has a saying that A players hire A players; B players hire C players; and C players hire D players. It doesn’t take long to get to Z players. This trickle-down effect causes bozo explosions in companies.” This means, as explained by Rolf Dobelli, “Start hiring B-players and you end up with Z-players, which can grind down the talent pool over time.”
Remember that story of the great physician Issaac Newton? During the occurrence of the plague in 1666 and 1667 BC, schools were closed, and the 25-year-old Newton showed his professor, Isaac Barrow, what he was researching in his spare time. Barrow immediately gave up his job as a professor to become Newton’s student. This is an exemplary instance of ethical behavior. When will something like this happen in our industry? A CEO or MD giving up his position and clearing up his desk to one of his 500 employees who can do a better job?
I’m still waiting.