Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Smart people and yes men

I work with some really smart people. I really mean it by all measures and indications they are highly intelligent and gifted at grasping complex concepts and situations. They can crunch data with the best of them. I've posted in the past on what they do with this data which is related to today's post.

These really smart people who like to manipulate the data have one more trick up their sleeves. They like to hire "yes" men. It only stands to reason they need to limit the number of people they surround themselves with who are independent thinkers with the gumption to express their opinions and press their case. This makes them very uncomfortable. These people hire experts and tell them how to do their jobs.

I am working to hire a person in our marketing department and my instructions are. First, its totally your call. Next, you need to find some one who can make it happen. Tell them what you want Lester and come back in 90 days and it will be done. From my perspective these projects are very involved and have a high degree of complexity and cross department interaction that pushes the job beyond the grunt level. It is a leadership position that requires keeping a varied group of contributors on the same page moving in the same direction. The next instruction goes like this. But, Lester we have plenty of people around here who know what needs to be done. We don't need to hire anyone who wants to create any plans or strategy. This is code for we don't need someone who can think. I am thinking this is probably not going to be a real strong leader.

In other words Lester don't hire anyone who is going to question my instructions, like you do. I added the last part.

How did these guys with such fragile ego's get so powerful? Sometimes I think their intelligence and discipline is a disadvantage because they do have the ability to carry enormous amounts of information in their heads. They are quick thinkers, fast on their feet and impressive communicators. I think they fall into a trap of feeling that because they can think it, remember it and communicate it faster than others they in fact have better or maybe the only ideas. Perhaps they begin to think after years of this experience they are the only ones with any creativity.

Or maybe their just too weak and insecure to share the spot light and risk knowing that someone else in the room can think and create solutions. I can promise you this, the business suffers with people like this in the leading roles. Their not that smart. A solid team of committed people with time and adequate resources to solve a problem scares the hell out of them. That's fun to watch if you can shut get Einstein to sit down and shut-up.

Thanks for reading.

PS, no yes men allowed on this blog. Oh yea, and I think our resident genius thought I was one. Surprise!!

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