Two people discussing astrategy chart (Image: Shutterstock)

Nearly every book on leadership or management will encourage some variation of “hire people who are smarter than you.” The wisdom goes that if you hire smart people, they will see opportunities you do not and bring new skills into the organization. As a result, the business grows and taps into new sources of revenue. Yes, you have heard this before, but if you look at your org. chart, how many of your recent hires were, in fact, smarter than you?

For as much as we talk about wanting people to challenge us and wanting the best players on our team, we rarely commit fully to that swing. In truth, we feel threatened. We don’t like being wrong, and as much as we say we value new ideas, we often hide from that discomfort in a variety of ways.

(Related: The Value of Prospects Who Don’t Close)

And how we hire is one of the biggest ways we hide.

Before you can change this dynamic in yourself and in your business, first frame the goal: Effective hiring gives you a path to leaving your role and pursuing the next level. In other words, the people you bring into the team should allow you to step into a higher position and pursue higher order tasks.

Again, this is not groundbreaking. You hire an office assistant because answering phones and managing appointments is not the best use of your time. As your business grows, however, you might forget that the wisdom still applies.

In my own career, I joined The PT Services Group in a sales leadership capacity. I had a great deal of autonomy and a voice in the direction of the business, but I was still spending much of my day talking directly with prospects. As I succeeded in doing my part to grow the business, we expanded the department to include two more salespeople. With those hires, we were able to tap into a new market and free my time to pursue even higher-value opportunities for the organization.

Even though I am not far from the C-suite, we could see areas where my time was better spent, and we used strategic hires to transition me into those pursuits.

That means that I have to “let go” of tasks and responsibilities that used to be my own, which means trusting in the people we hired to be effective even if their approach is not exactly like mine. That also means that I have to grow as a professional and rise to new challenges myself. Personally, I find venturing into the unknown exciting and motivating. I believe that there are new streams of growth for us out there, and now that I can focus exclusively on finding them, we are on a better trajectory.

That might be scary for you, but as the old business saying goes, growth is often on the other side of the chasm.

If you agree that you can do more for the business if your time was more focused on specific tasks, hiring your own replacement is perhaps your largest opportunity. If you can embrace the growing pains of transitioning out of your role into something bigger, you can amplify your efforts and exponentially extend your reach.

If you are not willing to hire someone smarter than you, your personal bandwidth will always limit your potential. You can be better and accomplish more, but you can’t do it alone.

— Read 6 Ways to Capture the Rewards Hiding in the Unknownon ThinkAdvisor.


John Pojeta

John Pojeta is vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. Before he joined PT, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years.