Surround Yourself

J.D. Rockefeller said his secret to success was simple, “he surrounded himself with people smarter than he was.” Of course, J.D. was a very smart man and in no way was he a dummy. What he meant was he surrounded himself with people who knew more than him in those areas where he was weakest.

While there is a lot of truth in Rockefeller’s statement, there is a necessity to ensure each person possesses a unique knowledge (or talent) in those core areas of need in our company or on our teams. You need to avoid overlapping strengths (as much as possible) and be sure to hire to your team’s weakness. There are three exceptional companies that I have (first-hand) witnessed the success in this approach.

  • Chick-fil-A
  • Southeastern Freight
  • Dave Ramsey & Company

Marcus Buckingham states we should hire to the team’s weakness and when we do, we are “capitalizing on what is unique about each person, which builds a stronger sense of team. It creates interdependency.” To do this, you must know your strengths, as well as, those weaknesses of your team.

In 27 years of leading technology ventures and mentoring technology/entrepreneurial executives, I have always found ways to be beneficial to the team. Sometimes the biggest benefit is honoring the person beside me to make a big decision because of their strength and/or knowledge in an area. Because I put the right person beside me, I could trust the person to make a good decision for the sake of the team/company.

To truly enjoy what you do every day you need to focus on your strengths. No matter how hard we try and invest, improving our weakness(es) is virtually impossible. The best thing you can do is find the role(s) that allows you to use them to benefit you and your team.

Once you and your team are working together, you’ll find the team stronger and with less “chinks in the armor.” What now? You should then spend time improving the communication among the team. Tools like DiSC are simple, effective tools to help understand and improve the communications of each person on the team. We’ll cover the importance of communication and transparency in the next blog.

Mitch Smith
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