I ran across a statement the other day that gave me pause for I truly thought that, stand alone, it was a dangerous concept: “Hire amazing people and give them freedom and they will do amazing things.”

Two key words in that statement: “Amazing” and “Freedom”.

Amazing: It all depends on your definition of “amazing” but amazing sounds closer to a charming personality trait, a “soft skill”, than to a “hard skill”.

Yes, soft skills are vital. EQ is incredibly important; enthusiasm, energy, persistence, dedication, commitment are all very important.

But soft skills MUST be linked to hard skills. A deep understanding of the business model and how all the complex parts interact is a must. Do they have critical thinking skills, the ability to tease out the most important variable in a situation and how to positively impact it in an effective/efficient manner AND what variable will then next be most critical? The list of necessary hard skills is quite lengthy.

Freedom: Ah, yes. Who wouldn’t like to be able to operate without constraints? Well, even the boss operates under incredible constraints: mortgages must be paid, investors demand a return, the laws and statutes to be complied with are legend and growing like weeds, the personal injury attorneys swarm like sharks, inventing new forms of liability daily… To effectively think outside the box, you must understand the box and why it was created. The box (i.e. policies and procedures, guidelines and guardrails) was created to keep bad things from happening. Yes, at times portions are outdated or don’t apply or interact with other rules to create unnecessary gridlock BUT you must truly understand a great deal beyond just your role and your task to know when it is safe to disregard the box. As the saying goes, the trouble with the world is that the fools are certain and the wise doubtful.

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier