I once had the pleasure of working for the worst CEO on the planet. It was a ‘pleasure’ because I learned an incredible amount about leadership and culture what-not-to-dos. The one good thing this Executive imparted on me was that “B’s” hire “C’s” and “A’s” hire “A’s.”
It wasn’t until I watched (at the urge of one of my incredible Incrementa Partners) the TED talk by Margaret Heffernan on “Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work,” that I started to put the pieces of what “A’s, B’s and C’s” really mean.
What my misinformed CEO thought it meant by hiring “A’s,” was that you should hire the very best people in terms of education and skills – which she did. However she didn’t realize would be a consequence of this is that by hiring her new “A” level employees, she had replaced all of my hard-working, amazing colleagues. The place began to overflow with Mensa IQ’s and PhD’s (not that there is anything wrong with PhD’s – one of the most humble and inspiring PhD I have ever met is part of my Incrementa Team), but the team dynamics shifted, the atmosphere changed and the market share we fought so hard to win was quickly eroded in less than a year.
What I have now discovered, after doing countless turn-around projects in many countries as an Executive Leader for hire, is that the very best corporate cultures have something very unique: their Corporate Culture Report Card is full of “A’s” of a different type:
Rock Star organizations hire team members with the very best attitudes. You can train for every other skill under the sun. “A’s” as I define them are very hard to find, however they are out there though so keep looking!
As for all the “B’s” and “C’s” you have on the payroll, find a quick way to give them a generous severance package. Keeping them is only producing a bad Corporate Culture Report Card which turns into disease and value erosion.