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5 Things to do when you can’t hire a "10"

In his excellent leadership book, Axiom, Bill Hybels challenges us to “Hire Tens.” By this, he means that we should only hire a leader who is a “10” at their job: top-caliber in their abilities to lead and drive excellence. The fear is that, if we hire an 8, the best that person can get underneath them is a 6 or 7, and pretty soon we have 2s, 3s and 4s doing the work of our organizations.

I fully agree with him. . . In a perfect world. In a world where you can wait for the perfect candidate. In a world where the work that needs to be done can put off or distributed to other leaders, who aren’t already doing everything they can to get their jobs done.

Unfortunately, in my experience, rarely have the right opportunities and the right leadership candidates aligned at the right time and within the right budget. More often, in today’s market where finding, recruiting and keeping top-caliber talent seems harder every day. This recent headline in my hometown newspaper typified the hiring environment we lead in today.

So what do we do when we need to hire, but can’t find any 10s?

Several things:

  • Hire as high as you can,
  • Have a very clear set of job expectations,
  • Monitor what needs to be monitored,
  • Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations, and
  • Invest whatever it takes to turn that leader into a ten.

And don’t be afraid to make a change if your less-than-10 is lowering the bar for your entire organization.