Are You Surrounding Yourself With The Right People?

Too often in my career I’ve seen managers struggle because they don’t surround themselves with the right people. It’s the goal of this post to stimulate your thinking on this topic. Who are the right people?

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice, “You shouldn’t hire people like yourself.” That sounds like wisdom at a cocktail party, but it’s so oversimplified it’s of no use. Don’t listen to it. You should hire people who are like you in certain ways.

We’re talking about the issue of fit. Direct reports who are the best natural fit for you will definitely be like you in certain ways. One of my clients, a hotel general manager, had an intense drive for continuous improvement. He was never satisfied. If his direct reports didn’t share this drive, they were not a good fit for his style.

Difficulties arise when managers mistakenly look for things that shouldn’t matter. Is the person an enthusiastic sports fan? Are they in my generation? Are they a morning person? Were they in a sorority? In most cases, you should be completely unconcerned whether someone is like you in these respects.

Here are some things to consider when thinking about who’s right for you.

  • What kind of person thrives under your unique leadership style?
  • What weaknesses/deficiencies can you just not tolerate?
  • How will this person fit with your team?
  • Is this someone you’re willing to trust?
  • Would you look forward to working with this person every day?
  • What strengths do they bring that compliment your strengths?

The last item, complimentary strengths, is the area in which you should very intentionally seek people who are not like you. This is how you produce synergy.

If you can answer the questions listed above, you can determine whether someone is the right person to report to you, and you can quit worrying about the degree to which they’re like you or not like you.

Thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Larry Sternberg

4 thoughts on “Are You Surrounding Yourself With The Right People?

    • @Chris Lundine Thanks for your comment. I think it’s very important to assess strengths/weakness vs what the job/position needs. I think a lot of people do that and think about the organization culture, but don’t think about the other important aspects of fit.


  1. Quick question – how do you keep “surrounding yourself with the right people” from turning into the whole point of someone’s employment? I’m referring to people who take “networking” on the job to an extreme as well as the ones who surround themselves with people who are such a “good fit” so that they never have to stretch or grow. Thanks.


    • @Judy Boozer Thanks for this question. There is much to be said on those two issues. I’m open to a call if you’re interested. My mobile is 402.613.0130. I’m not sure how too much time networking (which could definitely be a problem) is related to surrounding yourself with the right people. That’s why I’d love to discuss this on the phone, so I can understand your point better. To your second point, I believe when someone is a good fit it’s more likely they’ll grow. I’d like to understand your point of view better on this issue as well. I hope you call.


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