Famous American advertisement guru David Ogilvy once said: "If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants."
Those of us in technical fields must always remember this. When work involves a high level of skill, it's too easy to fall into the thinking that the manager must be the most skilled person on the team.
A common mistake of junior managers is to try to maintain an air of technical superiority as a necessary device to keep team members in line. Sometimes junior managers will even hide information, and go out of their way to make underlings look bad. This manner of stifling people just to keep them under control is certainly not a scalable approach to management.
As most senior managers come to learn, one must take the opposite approach if one wants to move up the ladder. The best managers anchor the team emotionally, not intellectually. The best managers concede right away that team members are smarter than they are, and then they get on with managing a team of highly skilled workers.
When it comes time to hiring new people, don't let your ego get in the way. Go as far as you can to find the best people out there. If you find it hard to find good people, follow the advice of Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos: "I would rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person."
And if you think it's impossible to find people smarter than you, the following discussion might give you some perspective. If you have an IQ of 126, which is considered to be "gifted" level, that means you are in the 95 percentile. Another way of looking at that is, when you are in a room of 20 people from the general population, chances are you are the smartest person in the room.
Remember that this is a room full of people from the general population – not just IT types. If you are in a room full of IT types, most of the people in the room probably have IQs above 126.
Let's now say you have an IQ of 137, which puts you in the 99 percentile. You are one in a hundred. In a world with a population of 7 billion, that means 70 million people are smarter than you. 70 million is still an awful lot of people. After all, it's 10% more than the population of the UK.
Now here's the clincher. If you are truly a genius - so smart as to be one in a million - that still leaves seven thousand people in the world who are smarter than you.
It's fair to say that no matter how smart you are, there are still a lot of people out there who are smarter than you. Many of them still need to work for a living. Hire as many of them as you can.