If you’re going to hire someone, why not hire someone made in your image? Let’s face it—you’ve been successful. You’ve climbed the management ranks. You must be doing something right. So, who better to add to your team than someone just like you? Someone who acts like you. Someone who thinks like you. Someone who even walks and talks like you. That must be a winning formula, right?
We’re all guilty of thinking that our way is the best way. We think that if there was a better way to do things, we’d be doing it that way. If everyone else would just get on board and follow my lead, things would go so much more smoothly. Give me a team of like-minded individuals, and I could stop wasting my time convincing others to follow my lead. You wouldn’t need to “sell” your ideas or defend your approach to a problem. Everyone would line up and do it exactly as you would. Mission accomplished.
Corporate meeting rooms echo with statements made by those who think they have it all figured out or that their way is the ONLY way.
“We’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work. Do it this way instead.”
“We don’t have time to try something new. Just do it our way. It works.”
“Trust me, I’ve done this hundreds of times, and this is the best way.”
Look, I’m sure you’re really smart and great at what you do, but if you believe that you need to surround yourself with a bunch of people who think just like you, you’re sorely mistaken. Sure, it might make things easier for you, but does it really make things better? Not often.
As managers, we need to look for diversity of thought. We need to find people who bring different ideas and solutions. What makes a strong team isn’t a group of people who all think alike or have the same skills—it’s individuals who think and act differently but who can collaborate and challenge one another safely.
Take any routine task, and you can find many different ways to accomplish it. For instance, you want to peel an apple. There are different methods and tools you can use to accomplish the same result. Some might be safer, others faster, and others again that produce a better end result. Assuming the way you peel an apple is the only way is not only wrong, but it’s also foolish.
Depending on the circumstances, you might want to employ one of the many methods or tools to get the job done. In some cases, speed is of the essence, so you might choose your method based on that. In other cases, you’re looking for a safe approach, and the tool you might choose to ensure safety may be different from the one chosen for speed. And who knows when someone might invent a new tool that is faster or safer than anything available today? To close your mind to those possibilities shuts down innovation and collaboration.
Early in my career, I worked for a manager who wanted everyone to do every job just the way he would. If you were writing a report, it needed to be in his style and voice. Imagine an entire department of people trying to write a report in the boss’ voice. It might take twice as long, but he liked the way it sounded. Of course, no one could ever capture exactly what he would say or how he’d turn a phrase, so the reports were always heavily edited and graded as much on your ability to capture his style as the content. He worked very hard to create a group of clones, and in doing so, he stifled creativity, collaboration, and innovation.
For the same reason a basketball team doesn’t need five starting point guards or a football team can’t be made up of only quarterbacks, you need to build a team with a variety of strengths, talents, and experiences. You don’t need a bunch of people just like you. Instead, you need a team of people who complement and bring out the best in each other. You need variety of thought, differing personalities, diversity of experiences, and a mix of talents to assemble the very best team possible.
Next time you have the opportunity to add someone to your team, don’t look for someone just like you. Instead, look for that unique individual who will bring something the current team is lacking. Look for the person who is going to make the team better because he or she brings something the current team doesn’t have or needs more of. You don’t need someone who is made in your image; you need someone who is uniquely positioned to make the team even better than it is.