Why you should recruit executives who are better than you…

In his 2011 AdWeek memoir on David Ogilvy, the advertising legend, Kenneth Roman tells the following story:

“At one board meeting, he [Ogilvy] gave directors sets of Russian nesting matryoshka dolls. Inside the largest doll a smaller one, then a smaller one, and so forth. Inside the smallest doll there was a slip of paper:

“If we hire people who are smaller than we are, we will become a company of dwarfs. If we hire people who are bigger than we are, we will become a company of giants.

“Hire people who are better than you are. And pay them more than you if necessary.”

It is a great guiding principle. The smart manager hires the best team and revels in its success – a success which reflects well on all of them; everybody wins. The less smart manager hires down, the team struggles to meet targets, and the manager ends up blaming team members; nobody wins.

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