In an NYT interview Michael Lebowitz, founder and C.E.O. of design firm Big Spaceship, passes on some excellent information on hiring, building a team and culture.
Here are two of the points with the greatest impact,
One of my longest-standing clients, a very smart guy, says: “There’s two ways to manage. You can hire to be the smartest person in the room or you can hire to be the dumbest person in the room.”
He says he works at being the dumbest.
“Don’t hire jerks, no matter how talented.”
Lebowitz says that there is no place for rock stars and I agree totally, unless you are naïve enough to believe they can function alone, without the cooperation, support and backing of the team.
Hiring rock stars means turnover—not productivity.
I’ve seen many team members leave because their manager’s focus was so completely on taking care of his few stars that he had nothing left over for the rest.
One of the finest managers I know has had a team packed with stars everywhere he’s worked. Partly because his reputation is well known and talent flocks to work for him, but mainly because he passionately believes that most people have the ability to become stars, some brighter than others, and he manages them accordingly.
True, he works harder at managing than many and has been kidded by his peers about the lengths to which he goes, but he tells me he wouldn’t have it any other way.
I once asked him how he got to be that way and he said that he’d never done anything that he didn’t want from his own manager, so it wasn’t a big deal.
I couldn’t resist asking if he was managed the way he did manage.
His response was a smile and laugh and that just because he didn’t get it didn’t mean that he didn’t want it.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stampinmom/5371862260/