Never be scared to work with people smarter than you

A people hire A people, B people hire C people. Always strive for the most excellence. Never be scared to work with people who are smarter than you. Never be scared to let others be smarter than you.

via Dave Winer

While true enough, don’t jump to the conclusion to never hire B players. In a successful team, the sum is greater than the total of the parts. And that invariably requires a number of B players supporting the A players by building solid foundations underneath ground breaking A player initiatives.

I’ve always felt that while a company needs to try to be world class at something, it shouldn’t try to be world class at everything. Because once you get past your 1 or 2 core competencies, it’s not cost effective to be the best. Few companies can endure the inner politics generated by multiple groups all striving to be the best and lead the company. And turnover in the losing groups can be disastrous.

Yes, you need A players leading all your groups. But some of those leaders must commit to playing supporting roles and building groups that are just good enough to get the job done. That’s going to require a lot of B players. Just make sure to be alert in weeding out the C players.