“We hire, exclusively, the best and the brightest.”
What does this statement mean? We hear it so often, but what are the metrics that underlie the term “best”. Is it smarts calculated via standardized tests, is it work ethic, is it GPA, is it creativity?
While this is one way trying to figure out whom to hire at a firm, do you really want all “smart” people working on a team.
Here I say no, no you don’t. If “smart” is to mean competent then, yes, but if smart is to be synonymous with Einstein or Steve Jobs or Picaso, then no, no you don’t.
The way I see it is there are 5 minds in the world:
- The Abstract Mind: These are the philosophers, the Einstein’s, the Zuckerberg’s, the Steve Jobs’ of the world. The ability to look at a problem for what it is and extrapolate abstract ideas allows for them to see not only remedies but also potential avenues for solutions that might be wildly speculative. These are the people that know that they know nothing at all and as a result are constantly analyzing in the abstract to try and find some measure of truth.
- The Analytical Mind: These are the economist’s & scientist’s, the Warren Buffet’s, the Ben Bernanke’s of the world. These are the minds that delve deep into reality, but stay in reality. They like facts, figures, and tangible solutions to complex problems. They are the rationalists and the realists. These are the people that drive organizations to hit their targets and spearhead organizational progress.
- The Determined Mind: These are the athletes of the world, the salesmen, the go-getters. These are the minds that are driven, internally or externally, play by the rules and are steadfast in their conviction that if they perform at the top of their game they will thrive, they will succeed. There is but one way to the top, no life hacks, no short cuts, simply pure grind. These are the minds that will get straight A’s throughout school without necessarily being the smartest, they rise to the occasion through their ethic and determination. These are the minds that are the backbone and the lifeblood of the company, the ones creating change, not merely speculating about it.
- The Bandwagon Mind: These are the sidekicks, the gatekeepers, and the loyal members. These are the minds that, on a team, find someone they admire and strive to be like them. While they may be motivated by a number of variables, the influential variable in the equation is the person that they hold in high esteem and they will go to the ends of the world to stick up for an individual or group, regardless of the individual or group’s merit.
- The Complacent Mind: These are the unconcerned minds that simply do just enough to get by, never question, keep their head down and exist. They try not to cause trouble, rarely express opinions, and keep the status quo.
To create the best possible team, you want an assortment of these minds to work in unison to produce a holographic entity that is larger, more productive than the sum of its parts.
Consider for a moment if you had all Abstract Minds on a team. Yes, oh yes would there be wild ideas, speculative innovations that even Isaac Asimov would be surprised by. But this vision is simply vision without action. You need The Analytical mind to bring the Abstract Mind down to reality and talk strategically on how to create and implement an idea or a strategic move. You need The Determined minds to take these strategic directional orders and work with their unyielding determination and unwavering ethic to make the idea or plan come to fruition. And you undoubtedly need the Bandwagon Mind to fill the role of the utility player to cover all the gaps in a given plan.
This is the structure for a productive team. So to say that we only want the “smartest” is a farce because we don’t. We don’t want Analytical Minds bantering back and forth about deep economic regression analysis, we don’t simply want Abstract Minds speculating about the meaning of existence, we don’t only want Determined Minds to spin their wheels and exude their energy towards an ill conceived end. We need all types to make a cohesive unit.
And it is towards this end that the leader, which ever mind that may be, must know the team members, and know what makes them tick on an individual level. A good leader is one that does not shout orders and beckons the chain of command to obey their will; a good leader is one that creates an air of inclusivity within a team, not exclusivity.
In many organizations there is a rigid hierarchy, where those in the middle often get disgruntled because they cannot see the direction of the company and they are not involved in the overall process towards a given goal. They are simply pistons in an engine firing away, direction unknown. In this environment a true perspective of company can only be grasped when at the top or the bottom. At the bottom you can see how processes start and at the top you can see where they finish. Being in the middle, perspective gets skewed from a lack of information as to what’s happening in the lower or the higher ends. A quality team is one where individuals know their duties and responsibilities, but they also feel that they can have input, autonomy, and an expression of their will to help craft a proper delivery of a given idea or strategy.
So do we want only the smartest, no, we want some. Do we want to create a rigid hierarchy, no, only if we want dissatisfied employees. Be flexible, be inclusive, and know your team. Then and only then will you create something truly special.