A Bit of Hiring Advice from Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca

For those of you not familiar with Lee Iacocca, he was an automobile executive best known for the development of Ford Mustang and Pinto cars, while at the Ford Motor Company in the 1960s, and then later for reviving the Chrysler Corporation as its Chief Executive Officer during the 1980s.

Chrysler was a failing, major automotive manufacturer and Mr. Iacocca indeed came in and brought it back to life.

Lee passed away recently and, though I did not know him personally, I was saddened he was no longer with us. He was a very bright executive and I recall how he approached the subject of hiring. In his own words:

“I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”

That’s a pretty succinct statement and yet there’s quite a bit in there, wouldn’t you say?

First of all, he hired people brighter than him.

Can you do that?

Would you want to do that?

For some of us, leadership means managing people less able than ourselves. We don’t want to feel challenged by subordinates.

And then we have leaders that are willing, even eager to manage brighter and more able individuals.

So, if you can hire people brighter than you, you’re in a good position to consider the second part of Mr. Iacocca’s quote: “and then I get out of the way.”

What does that mean?

Does that mean you give these exceptionally bright people full reign to do whatever they want in the company?

I’m thinking Mr. Iacocca did not go quite that far. He likely gave these individuals the space to be creative to get production done in new and more efficient ways, but he also kept an element of management and supervision in place.

But the spirit of the quote is certainly worth considering. Hire individuals brighter than you and then let them apply their talent and skill to help the company advance. Acknowledge their gifts, acknowledge their production even more.

As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.

Watch our three minute video to see how we can help you hire the right people.

Scroll to Top