Worse than surrounding yourself with stupid people is surrounding yourself with smart people and not letting them act. Worse than not asking for their opinion, is asking for it and not hearing it, because you are always right.

There are two things we should do: hire the best and get out of the way.
When Truman was thinking of George Marshall for Secretary of State, one of his insiders said, “if you appoint him, people are going to say he would make a better president than you.” And Truman said, ” He would make a better president! But I am the president, and I want to have the best people around me.” Even Franklin Roosevelt once modestly said: “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” Look for people to hire who are smarter than you; who possess the integrity to restrain from doing the bad things and energy and intelligence to focus on the right things.

If you want to surround yourself with smart people – be one. Learn to listen to your people. Let them disagree with you. Trust them. Give them opportunities to learn and grow. If you think you can achieve anything big by yourself, you are doomed. Jim Goodnight, the CEO of SAS, says “95% of my assets drive out of the front gate every night, and it’s my job to make sure they come back the next day.” The one question you should keep asking yourself is “what keeps them still working for me when there are options out there?

Michael Dell says „never be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room.”  … I would say– if you think you are the smartest guy in the room; cast doubt on that and lighten up.  One thing which should truly scare us is the moment we start believing we have all the answers – a clear indication we are not asking the right questions.  Let’s not fool ourselves. There are no irreplaceable people; there are only a few who are difficult to be forgotten because they have left something meaningful behind.

“In the 21st century, the smartest person in the room is the entire room.”

” You are not the smartest person in your organization just because you are a leader. A great leader surrounds himself with people who are smarter. And in the process, the people make the leader smarter. Humility is a virtue and pride is a weakness. ” – Francis Kong
I met Francis Kong during a management training at Harvard. He is a humble, very inspiring person and I feel extremely lucky for having the chance to be in the same management class with him.


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