“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

Companies announce top new hires with a lot of hype and hoopla and anoint them as change catalysts who will catapult the firm to greater heights.

The smart hire come in with enthusiasm and energy and has excellent ideas and plans. Then the reality hits.  The culture and the cliques kick in.  There are objections galore.

Smart People (Not So) Welcome:

“We always do it this way!”  | “We are not Google (or Amazon or Apple or Netflix), and it does not work here.” | “When pigs fly…” | “I don’t want you to ruffle too many feathers.” | “We’ve been doing pretty well. So, my suggestion is to rinse and repeat.” | “You are new! Let me tell you something…”

Of course, this is not just about new hires.  Even existing employees who are smart and skilled encounter these obstacles. Some can overcome these challenges and excel. But for many, the grind saps their enthusiasm and diminishes their zeal. Then they quit or roll with the punches and be a part of the great machine.

There is no point in hiring smart people and tell them exactly what to do. Companies that excel in this digital era are bastions of breaking the mold. They are not stuck to the past and do not consider anything sacrosanct. Their motto typically is, “Slaying sacred cows make for great steaks.”

Plus the winners of today not only hire smart people but allow them the free reign to improvise and innovate. A meritocracy that will enable for best ideas to rise to the top and best people advance in their careers.

So, what’s the point of hiring the smartest of the bunch if you are not going to unleash their talent and instead make them follow the grind?

Don’t make this mistake. Instead set the vision, provide minimal guardrails and guidelines, and let them FLY.  They will find a way to make things happen. And that is the way to set the enterprise on a growth path.

Is Steve Jobs correct? Agree? Disagree? What has been your experience? Please share your thoughts.

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