Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, once said: “Never tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high.”
When hiring a new team member, we have all made the mistake of falling in love with the candidate’s resumé or CV. The school they went to, the companies they have worked at… the titles they have had. We think that we just HAVE TO have this person on board.
The brilliant candidate arrives and in a very short period of time, signs of unrest, disengagement and eventually, apathy seeps into your culture. The brilliant jerk that we just had to have on board has become a cancer.
I saw this first hand at a software turnaround I did. The executive team I had were brilliant. Great resumés. Great educations. Smart people. Really smart. Some of them were even Mensa IQ’s (Genius level IQ’s). Problem was that they spent all their time trying to prove that they were smarter than everyone else. They even despised each other for each thought they were the smartest in the room. This despise spilled over into actual, physical silos in the business where team members were kept separated from each by locks on the doors between groups.
Their dysfunctional behavior did not even come close to anything that resembled leadership, and I tolerated it for a short period of time – thinking I could fix these guys. Wrong! One day, I had a mass firing of the executives. Within 15 minutes of their departure, team members were coming up to me and saying: “What took you so long?” Everyone in the business knew these geniuses were a cancer. Their competence was unmatched. Their confidence in themselves and inability to be vulnerable was their undoing.
By lunchtime that day, the entire culture was different. Lighter. More smiles. More laughter. By the next day, the locks were off the doors. Two weeks later, the walls were down between groups and people could collaborate freely. And… within a few months, revenue was growing again after being flat for a few years.
If you want your business to grow on a regular basis, here’s what you have to do:
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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