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Grow Your Business Your Team

8 Brilliant Hiring Philosophies from Famous Leaders

8 Brilliant Hiring Philosophies from Famous Leaders
Credit: Ismagilov/Shutterstock

No matter its size or industry, a company is only as successful as the people involved with it. That's why hiring the right employees is such a critical process for all business leaders, including those who head the biggest and most powerful companies in the world.

If you've ever wondered how top executives like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg tackle the task of building a team, here are eight tips and philosophies straight from famous leaders themselves.

"I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person." Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (source)

Zuckerberg's approach to hiring shows that he's humble enough to listen to and take advice from his employees, regardless of their rank. As a boss, it's your job to not only guide your staff, but also identify those who can one day lead alongside you, or even fill your role as you move up. Seeking out employees with a knack for leadership and sound judgment can only help you as your team grows in the future. [How to Hire the Right Person for the Job]

"When you have really good people, you don't have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don't like it if you tolerate B-grade work." – Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple (source)

No leader wants subpar work from his or her team. That's why it's so important to hire what Jobs called "A-plus" people right from the beginning. Seek out the most driven, hardworking candidates, and you'll always get great results.

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." – Oprah Winfrey, chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions and the Oprah Winfrey Network (source)

While she may not have been speaking specifically about hiring, Winfrey's quote still holds true for leaders looking to build a strong team. It's easy to draw the attention of top talent when your company is doing well, but it's the people who believe in your company's mission — those who will stick by you and help see the business through the inevitable rough patches — who will make the best employees.

"If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants." – David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather (source)

Great leaders often recommend hiring people who are smarter than you and can supplement your weaknesses. Ogilvy, known as the "father of advertising," expressed this sentiment, advising managers to look for ambitious, talented individuals who can make the company greater than the sum of its parts.

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States (source)

Micromanaging is rarely an effective leadership style. Learning to delegate and let go of the reins sometimes can be difficult, but it's easier when you hire people whom you can trust to accomplish tasks efficiently and correctly.

"For ... every hire I've made, I've gotten the exact person I wanted. It's been surprisingly easy to assemble what I think is the best and brightest team." – Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo (source)

According to an Inc. article about this quote, Mayer suggested that she's been able to hire every person she wanted because the company "sells itself." Although your company may never be as big as Yahoo, it can and should strive to have a culture and mission that truly sell the company to prospective employees — who should, of course, be among the best and brightest in their field.

"If we weren't still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company." – Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft (source)

Microsoft didn't become one of the most successful tech companies in the world by taking it easy. Similarly, if you want your company to keep thriving and growing, you can't slow down or think that where you are is "good enough." Keep seeking out talented individuals to join your team, and take it to the next level.

"You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world ... but it requires people to make the dream a reality." – Walt Disney, founder of The Walt Disney Company (source)

Disney built a multibillion-dollar global empire — and he couldn't have achieved that without a strong, dedicated workforce behind him. Find talented candidates who want to help make your company's dream a reality and who can work well with your existing team to make it happen.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.