A tip for Managers: Hire above yourself. Seek people who are more experienced than you are or who have a more specialized education than you do. Find people who are better at customer service than you or who are more analytical than you. Wake up every morning working to build the most awesome team of experts and talented people in the world.
Allow yourself to be slightly uncomfortable with your team. When you interview people you can have one of two experiences: A) you sit across the table from someone who is just like you but not as far along in their career. This person likes you a lot because you have accomplished what they hope to accomplish. You are flattered by their praise and you feel secure in your ability to out-do them in your current realm of responsibility. Or B) you can sit across the table from someone who has more knowledge on a specific subject than you. You can ask them questions and learn from them. Perhaps they have managed more people than you have or they have an advanced degree in mathematics or statistics. They can intimidate you with their expertise if they so choose.
The best teams are built utilizing the second scenario. Think about sports for a moment. When Phil Jackson, the then head coach of the Chicago Bulls, was helping to develop Michael Jordan as a player, he was working with someone who could do a job better than he or anyone else could. When Jimmy Johnson, the then head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, recruited Troy Aikman, he was pulling in a leader who would outshine himself. Phil and Jimmy knew this principle. They were recruiting above themselves. It seems so obvious in sports, why do we not see it in business?
Have you ever stopped at a local store, restaurant, or auto mechanic shop and found the owner running around all stressed out trying to do everything themselves. The owner is the expert in everything. All the staff seem to be looking at him or her for daily direction. That owner is not hiring above himself. He has a long road ahead of barely keeping up.
Why do we do this? There are so many reasons we fall into this trap, here are just a few: Fear of being out-shined. Fear that really smart people will not want to work for your team. Past experiences on sub-par teams. Poverty mentality. A desire to be the smartest person in the room at all times. A misplaced sense of your own importance (your importance as a manager comes from your ability to serve your team and make them shine). Basic economics - you do not believe you can afford top people. And on the list goes.
Don't be that person. Be the person who gets comfortable within your own abilities and realizes that your success is only limited by the amount of talent and passion that you can add to your team.
If you are not a manager it is helpful to see your team in this way as well. Having people on your team, peers, who know subjects in a deeper way than you is a good thing. It will make you a stronger member of the team. Encourage your team members to excel in their area. Winning teams are made up of a variety of personalities and special talents. Embrace the variety and strength. Welcome it.
I love having lunch with people who know a lot more than I do on a subject. I like hearing how other people do their craft. For example, when I get around a database architect I can spend hours asking questions about scalability, design, platforms, problem solving and their past projects. I want someone who can blow my doors off on a subject because I know they will lead our company forward in a huge way. And our customers will win because they receive the tremendous benefit of the best minds in the industry. That is what it is about; providing customers with the best products and services. Those only come from the best teams, the most engaged and passionate people. Put yourself at the bottom of the org chart and hire people who can blow your doors off. Then celebrate them when they do. Let the spotlight be on them. Your reward will end up being a hundred times bigger as a result.