Recognize One's Limitations

Limitations. Everyone has them; too few people, however, realize they have them.

After recognizing one's limitations, one should always try to hire the brightest people available to address those limitations. Of course, that means hiring people who, ideally, are better than one is. Unfortunately, that is far too rarely the case because ego gets in one's way.

I always wanted bright and confident people around me, people who had the strength of their convictions. As my assistant kept telling those who asked what a meeting with me would be like, they had to stand their ground. If they did not stand their ground, she said, they would not get very far with me.

My modus operandi: I would invariably play devil's advocate and challenge people. In doing so, I wanted to test how well they had thought out a position and how strongly they believed what they were recommending. More than once, far more than once, I was told people found me intimidating. I was always amazed because I never thought of myself that way. In my mind, I was simply testing people and their convictions.

Paradoxically, the area about which one should be most conscious concerns the field one knows best. Since my only position in education before becoming a college president was a vice president of development, I gave my development heads over the years more leeway than others reporting to me because I was more sensitive about micromanaging in that area than elsewhere.

One should always try to find good people, and one should have enough confidence in oneself to be surrounded by strong individuals, the strongest people available. If one cannot find them for all positions, one should at least find them for areas where one is weakest.

One may not feel one has weaknesses. One does; we all do. Shore them up whenever possible, and shore them up with the best possible people.