Sometimes the smartest person for the job is not the best person for the job.

By Steve Moran

If you hire another smart person to add to your team of smart people you are wasting their salary.

Last week I attended the video streaming version of The Global Leadership Summit that is put on by the Willow Creek Association, a resource organization for churches. Their Annual Summit is broadcast to several hundred sites around the world and is attended by about a quarter million people.  

The Summit presentations are kind of an odd mix of world class leadership speakers like Jim Collins (Good to Great), Ed Camull (Pixar), Brené Brown (Rising Strong) and some powerful preachers.

Women Leaders

Sallile Krawcheck is the chair of Ellevate Network and former president, of Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management group. She presented a talk titled “Leadership and Ethics on Wall Street.” While she had lots of interesting things to say, one thing has just kept niggling at me.

In the context of why corporate America needs more women on their board of directors, she pointed out that as corporations look to add new individuals to their boards, adding another really smart person to the board does very little to make the board and the company better. I would add two things:

  1. There are many really good reasons to have more women leaders.

  2. I don’t want to somehow imply that women are somehow less smart than men.

Too often boards choose, whether men or women, other board members who are just like the existing board members. They see operations more or less the same, they see marketing the same and they see ethics the same. They see or miss seeing opportunities more or less the same. Her initial proposition was that adding women to boards of directors would make them more ethical and she suggested there was some research confirming this.



Different Eyes

As she took us deeper, the more fundamental point was that boards need members who look at the world of business and industry with different eyes. While she was mostly reflecting on corporate governance, what keeps banging around in my skull is that at every level of leadership, organizations need people who look at and approach their part of the world with a different perspective.

Don’t get me wrong on this. I am not suggesting you hire someone who is a jerk or a complainer. That kind of person is a company terrorist. The people you want to hire, need to hire, have to be well aligned with the core values of your company, they need to be committed to creating positives as well as finding problems.

I sat on a church board with a guy who loved the church, loved the people, and worked in the film industry. He was creative, contentious and vocal. That church did amazing things and grew rapidly because he had different eyes.

It Is Not Easy

This is not such an easy thing to do. Hiring team members who have a unique perspective requires having strong leaders who thrive on having their ideas and concepts challenged. These people will push you and your team as hard as you have ever been pushed. At times they will be so frustrating, you just want them to go away, but don’t do that. They will make your company, your region, your community better than it has ever been.

How about it? Do you have any different eyes team members and how do you benefit from it?