“If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.” – David Ogilvy
I have had the pleasure of working with many businesses over the years, helping entrepreneurs to build up their businesses and watching them flourish as leaders in the process. Many of them went on to become successful business leaders, others… not so much. Though many people talk about the passion and “never say die” attitude required to succeed in business, a quality that I have observed in successful leaders, and one that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves, is ego.
Successful business leaders are not afraid to admit their weaknesses, they know that there is always something more they can learn and an area that can always be improved. They understand that the growth and success of their business is not entirely a product of their own making, but is a collaborative effort of talented and dedicated individuals all working together towards a common goal – no matter how great a sports coach is, he isn’t going to win a championship with lousy players. Successful business leaders surround themselves with the best and brightest, freeing themselves to do what they as leaders do best – planning and developing the future growth of their business. They know exactly where they want to go, and put together the best team possible to help them get there – in a sense, they work on their business, not in their business.
On the other side of the coin is the mediocre business leader. They think they know everything and everyone else knows nothing. They are always right no matter what because they view themselves as the single reason why their business is growing. Because of this attitude, they cannot foresee hiring anyone who is better at something than they are, and end up surrounding themselves with mediocrity which only tends to reinforce their ego. A harsh lesson that many of these mediocre business leaders learnt from the economic collapse of 2008 was that it was a hell of a lot easier to succeed in a booming economy. They had let their “success” blind them to the true realities of their situation. It was evident in the wake of the recession that the businesses that continued to survive — and even thrive — did so because of the planning of their leaders and the investment they had made in their people.
Are you prepared to become a successful business leader? You’ll need to ask yourself some tough questions and answer honestly about yourself and your own abilities. Maybe you won’t like what you hear. The real question is this: What will you learn from this exercise? And will your ego be able to handle it? Consider checking yours at the door, and maybe you’ll start down the path of building a company of giants.