How to Hire Talent That's Out of Your League

Smart executives know to follow this advice when hiring a senior leader: Hire someone smarter than you are. 

But how do you do that, when you're a small but growing business, with a small but growing budget? 

In this series, developed through the Return on Values research project (an initiative of the Inc. Small Giants Community and the Center for Values-Driven Leadership), four CEOs of mid-size companies share how they manage to "marry up" - hiring and retaining top talent that others might consider out of their league. 

You'll also find short videos featuring tested examples of how companies succeed by finding -and keeping- the right talent. 

Find the series here, Hiring & Retaining Top Talent

The First Task of Management, and Three Steps to Get There

Psychologist Daniel Goleman is a founder in the field of emotional intelligence and a New York Times best-selling author. After a long career spent studying and writing about human nature and our capacity for growth, change, and leadership, Goleman has earned the right to comment about what it means to lead others. For him, as the quote in the graphic above illustrates, leadership of others starts with knowing and managing yourself.

If it's been a while since you've invested time in knowing who you are and how you are leading, then it's time to revisit the topic. Here are three ways, of varying intensity, to rediscover who you are:

1. Read.
Our Return on Values research initiative, a partnership with the Inc. Small Giants Community, takes us into the corner offices of exceptional CEOs. Every executive we've interviewed has mentioned the influence of books in their leadership and understanding of their selves and others. Two CEOs have used the exact same phrase, "Readers are leaders."

Here are two books that may contribute to your own leadership journey:

  • Resonant Leadership, by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. (Daniel Goleman's quote, from above, is taken from the introduction of this book.) The authors use the real stories of senior executives to illustrate the importance of a leadership style that fosters resilience and renewal.The book offers dozens of exercises to prompt your own thought and development.
  • Mindset, by Carol Dweck. Stanford researcher Carol Dweck unwraps decades of study (hers and that of others) to illustrate that our capacity for growth and intelligence is not fixed, but rather is learned and developed through practice. Dweck explores these concepts as applied in business, sports, relationships, and parenting. 
2. Audit.
Once you've refocused your attention on your own leadership and knowledge of yourself, take time to evaluate how you spend your days. Create a "time audit" sheet with columns to mark your priorities, which may include:
  • Strategy development and vision-casting
  • Daily operations
  • Team management
  • Innovation and development
  • Financial operations
  • Family and friends
  • Exercise
  • Personal development
  • Community engagement
Add columns for any other significant category where you believe you should invest your time. For the next two weeks, enter estimates of time spent in each of these categories. Do some categories come up short, while others are bloated with your time? What are the consequences of this? How can you calibrate to allow for more balance?

3. Study.
Finally, for executives interested in a deeper and more intensive examination of your own leadership, we encourage you to consider our Ph.D./D.B.A. program in values-driven leadership. Designed for senior leaders shaping the world of business, the program fits within an executive's scheduled and can be completed in three years. 

The first course in our doctoral program is "Leading Self," a thorough examination of your own hopes, objectives, and leadership styles. 

Learn more at

Regardless of where you start, the first task of management -as Daniel Goleman reminds us - is to lead yourself. Share your thoughts and stories here.