Hiring and managing for brilliance

Want game-changing ideas and execution? Hire misfits, weirdos, black sheep, difficult people who don’t fit into traditional roles because they are just brilliant. This isn’t a new idea, but when CEO’s say they want innovation, they don’t walk the talk by themselves; nor does human resources.

Corporations aren’t recruiting enough weirdos:

There is potency and innovativeness in certain kinds of weirdness that can help businesses thrive.

The key for leaders is to figure out how to support weird people so that they create—not destroy—value for the company. Some of these people have stifled their offbeat creativity out of social fear, camouflaging their true selves because they think it’s not appropriate at work to be as they really are. They leave essential parts of themselves at the office door.

Free the black sheep

Every business has weirdos, but only the innovative ones let them run wild. Zappos makes it a point to advertise that they only hire people who are weird and lucky, it’s a strategy that has propelled them into the pantheon of best places to work at. It’s also enabled them to execute on their Delivering Happiness strategy which has resulted in them becoming arguably the best customer service company in the world.

Though every innovative organization has a different culture, what they all have in common is that they are led by ideas not hierarchy. At Pixar, Apple and Google, the best ideas win. Not the guy with the loudest voice in the room, or the highest paid person, or the founders, or the outside consultant with the fancy graphs.

In organizations like Zappos, Google, Apple, Pixar and others where trust is the enabling factor that leads to consistent innovation, employees are enthusiastic about the work they do and give 200% everyday because it is something they want to be a part of.

I believe that this is what non-innovative organizations find weird: employees actually love coming to work everyday.

This doesn’t mean that your organization can’t do the same, but you do have to accept the fact that to free the black sheep your organization must provide freedom, support and challenge; the critical ingredients necessary to create the conditions for innovation.

Innovation is easy!

As Tom Peters says: Hang out with weird and thou shalt become more weird. Hang out with dull and thou shalt become more dull. It’s a simple as that!

How to attract creative talent

Hiring for innovation requires a new set of recruitment rules. It’s important that your company have a unique point of view, that you solve hard challenges, and have a purpose to what you do. This will at the least put you in the radar of innovators. If the best candidate lives far away, then you should be willing to hire full service moving companies to help them relocate.

When it comes to finding and hiring creative people:

  • Look beyond the job description;
  • Hire for passion and entrepreneurship;
  • Look for people who have wide interests and opinions;
  • Hire for potential, not past experience;
  • Make room for weird.

Bottom line: Hiring and managing for brilliance means you have to unleash the hearts and minds of employees by inspiring them and then getting the heck out of their way. 

Also published on Medium.