Great leaders are surrounded by better. Early in my career I was told by many others, “hire people smarter than me.” Like most advice I received at the time, I heard it…but didn’t always put it into action. As I have grown in my leadership journey, this concept become one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received.
The college football season just came to an end. The Georgia Bulldogs won their second consecutive College Football Playoff National Championship. They won both championships with a quarterback, Stetson Bennett, who in most people’s eyes was not capable of leading the Bulldogs to one, much less two. The saddest part was, most of those Critics laid within the Bulldogs’ own fan base.
Now, the critics outside the Bulldogs’ fan base ran with the narrative that the only reason Bennett succeeded was because he was surrounded by five star lineman, receivers, and running backs. They claim the only reason he is a two-time National Champion is because he was…surrounded by better. To that I say…EXACTLY!
The same principal applies in leadership. Leaders who are surrounded by better, simply put…do better. Here are four characteristics of leaders who are willing to be surrounded by better:
There was an intentional word used in the prior sentence…willing. Each and every one of us possesses the ability to retain, recruit, and develop people that are better. Most lack the willingness. Willingness is the key differentiator between ordinary and extraordinary leaders.
Are we willing to be surrounded by better?
C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Humble leaders can surround themselves by better because the life they lead is not about them. These leaders would much rather the spotlight shine brightly on others and fade into the shadows of those peoples’ success. Great leaders place themselves second to others.
Are we humble enough to be surrounded by better?
Insecure leaders lack both the ability and the willingness to surround themselves by better. Secure leaders are comfortable in their own skin. They are confident, but extremely self-aware individuals who build teams of people that strengthen their weaknesses. They retain, recruit, and develop people who are better and are perfectly fine with it.
Are we secure enough to be surrounded by better?
Nearsighted people see things better that are closer. Farsighted people see things better that are further away. I strongly believe that leaders with vision have the ability to see further than others. Great leaders have vision. A leader willing to surround themselves by better gets the long game.
We are simply Stewards of the Seats we occupy daily. Farsighted leaders could disappear off of the face tomorrow and there would be several people that could fill that seat. They care enough to desire sustained success well beyond their occupation of the seat.
Are we farsighted enough to be surrounded by better?
Back to Stetson Bennett. I have to imagine Bennett knows he was surrounded by better. It takes a willing, humble, secure, and farsighted individual to be okay with that. He also has a legacy, a special place in history, and two large rings that help make it okay!
As for me, I often wonder where I would be if I would have continued with safe hires, surrounding myself with ordinary people. I am truly grateful the message to surround myself with better Stuck. I can tell you this with absolute confidence that in my world…I am not only surrounded by, but supported by better. At times I sit in awe during leadership team meetings at the talent I am surrounded by.
Now for you, what’s your play call? Are you willing enough, humble enough, secure enough, and farsighted enough to be surrounded by better? If you are, I guarantee you will go much further, way faster.