Are You Sure You Want to Lead Talented Creative People?

February / 2021
more Author: Carroll H. Greene, COL (Ret), USAF, PhD, ABPP

Sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

To be able to hire only those people who have been objectively and extensively assessed for the character and characteristics your business needs.

But wait – that takes time and resources!

You might believe your organization may not have the resources to create that kind of growth foundation. Of course, you do need to do a cost-benefit analysis. 

Consider what it may cost you to simply begin using assessment and selection expertise to:

1. Determine the characteristics your business or team needs from its employees/team members.

2. Target the identification of those attributes through simple hiring processes. 

Those two things can be a first and inexpensive step.

Then, on the flip-side, consider how much your current process may be costing you:

1. How much time and money have you spent hiring the wrong people

2. Trying to train them – correcting their mistakes – then releasing them – and then-

3. Having to replace them – sometimes with more of the wrong people? Let’s then consider

4. The invisible cost of lost opportunities and initiatives that “never happened” because the right people were not in the room or on the job.

So – let’s assume you’ve decided you are willing to commit the energy to find – and keep – the right people.

But – before you do – think about the answer to one very important question. Can you personally handle having the best people on your team? 

WHAT are you talking about? I’ve never met a leader who didn’t want the best people on their team!  

You need to know that hiring the best people is not for everyone.

Some leaders feel threatened when their employees are more skilled, creative, or technologically knowledgeable than themselves. Some have trouble accepting that others will be more attractive, popular, or likable than themselves.

They react to these insecurities with a variety of behaviors that only help to ensure that the right people will be repelled by their initial impression of management or the right people will not stay around for long.

Some leaders give rein to their “competitive” nature and regularly compete with their own team members. They think this is a positive thing and that it encourages others to excel. The probability is – if you have to regularly provoke them to excel, you are not leading the best. Some leaders who regularly try to provoke their team to good performance are actually just enjoying the competition – sometimes at the team’s expense.

Some leaders regularly meet new ideas with one-upmanship responses that subtly remind the team “who is boss” or that “the boss knows best”. Some find reasons to not support the ideas of new team members or to obstruct that member’s sense of ownership. Some develop an “in-crowd” sub-group of obsequious team members who receive more support or “face time” than others.

In his book “What Got You Here – Won’t Get You There”, highly successful executive consultant Marshall Goldsmith lists some of the behaviors that problematic leaders use to manipulate their subordinates and team members in an effort to shine the spotlight on themselves or remind everyone who is in charge.

Most highly capable people will move-on to their next opportunity rather than tolerate this sort of unsupportive leadership milieu. 


Carroll H. Greene III, Colonel (Ret), USAF, Ph.D., ABPP
Carroll Greene is a retired Air Force Colonel and consulting psychologist with over 40 years of experience in behavioral health management and operational support to military special operations. For more than 25 years, he developed and led psychological applications to assess, select, and train elite special operations personnel for organizations in the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).