Hire smarter people than you are!




Paul Renaud moderating an Evernote Meetup with Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote on November 7th, 2012



I get the chance to meet and moderate interesting people. Phil Libin, CEO or Evernote (www.evernote.com) was in town and I was asked to moderate an Evernote meetup. I like to get to meet/know my guests since I need to know a bit about their leadership style and values. This makes it more interesting for the audience which in this case, ‘is my customer.’
Evernote is a $1billon (USD) company based in Silicon Valley and currently have 40 million customers. Evernote is a solution that helps you remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablets you use.

I had asked Phil what were the reasons of Evernote’ s success and after a few push backs indicating to me a touch of modesty, he admitted one of his guiding principles.
‘Paul, I hire smarter people than me’. I smiled and I let him finish. He went on to say, ‘I need to hire smarter people so we can progress. If I don’t hire someone that is smarter than me, then I end up doing the job myself which is counter-productive’.

I later told Phil that I smiled because I agreed with him and I adopted this principle in the emerging countries I had worked. I also smiled since I remembered the look of shock on some of my managers’ faces when I told them they too, had to hire smarter people. Then the question came…Well, if I hire someone smarter than me he/she will take over my job!’ which is a normal reaction to the unknown. At this moment, I would explain the difference between Leadership and Management.
The difference between Leadership and Management is that ‘Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things’. A Leader will do what is right for the organization by having the best possible talent and will hire smarter people. Leaders such as CEOs cannot manage every aspect and have the same deep level of knowledge of every facet of the organization.

Therefore the CEO must lead the experts in IT, technology, audit and product management in order for the organization to adapt, progress and win in the most efficient manner.

The Leader does exactly that…he leads. The Manager on the other hand, gets the job done.

Think about this distinction in your case. Are you a Leader or a Manager?
Are you doing what is right for your organization or are you managing the finite details?
Chances are your employer hired you to lead. Like Phil Libin, when you hire subject matter experts, this person understands that he/she was hired for their specialized skills and that you are the Leader, a fact that will remain.

Leaders don’t need to establish that they are in charge; ‘doing the right things ‘establishes them as Leaders!


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