Morton Mandel

Essential advice from a self-made leader

How To Hire “A” Players

Posted on December 18, 2012 in Management

I’m a realist. Not everyone has what it takes to assume a leadership role. Intelligence is not a given, nor is passion, values, or work ethic. Many people shun leadership responsibility. Only a few possess what it takes to be truly successful leaders. I call such people A’s.

To sustain our present world-class organization, we insist that everyone aim to hire only A’s.

This is a bedrock principle with me. If my team finds a “qualified” candidate for a job, my question is, “Can you honestly and genuinely tell me you’re enthusiastically in favor of hiring this person? You can only give me three answers: an enthusiastic yes, a maybe, or a sure no.” If the candidate receives a “weak yes,” that answer disqualifies the person because it increases the chance that you’ll hire a B or even a C.

What I have discovered is that B’s can prevent an organization from achieving much greater accomplishments. The C players generally get fired or quit because they can’t meet the standards. But the B players hang on. They bat .270 and don’t make many errors in the field, but they can’t help you win the pennant. They cheat you from achieving all you could. Even worse, you probably won’t know what you’ve failed to achieve—all because you had a B player with whom you were comfortable, in a job where you could have had an A.

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