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The Myth of the Lone Genius


Never feel intimidated by the Superman/woman in the office. A variety of skills and talents leads to the success of the team.

(Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios/Flickr)

In “How I Hire: There Is No Lone Genius; Hire a Team With These Four Types” Beth Comstock faults people for attributing the success of General Electic solely to Thomas Edison. While it would have proven her point, she fails to mention Nikola Tesla.

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If it weren’t for Tesla’s genius, we might still prefer oil lamps and candles to read by at night because of how weak and inefficient Edison’s electric lamps were. But too few people have heard of Tesla, and all of the credit goes to Edison.

Many Brands of Genius

The bottom line is people have a variety of skills, talents, and things to offer in the workplace. Often success depends upon the teamwork and collaboration of people with different skills. Tesla was a scientific genuis; Edison was good at business and publicity.

The key is to not be intimidated by what somebody else brings to the table, but rather, to be confident about what you bring to the table. A math genius and a great communicator need to work together to write a math textbook; the math genius ensures that the lessons are accurate and the communicator ensures that mathematical concepts are explained in such a way as to be accessible to the rest of us.

How Comstock Hires

In her article, Beth Comstock mentions four different types of skill sets she likes to put together on teams in her workplace. Each of these four types of people bring something of value to the table, and not one is more valuable to the other. Together, they create the most value.

Comstock likes to find people who have lived in other places and traveled, because they often introduce others to different ways of thinking. Another skill set she looks for is the ability to figure out complex problems. Comstock says she tries to find these people by giving hypothetical scenarios in interviews.

Design training is valuable, according to Comstock, because the discipline helps workers get a feel for how something is put together quickly. And, if none of those sound like you, she also says that well-rounded individuals and teams are invaluable to the success of projects. If you have experience in more than one discipline, you are likely a well-rounded player.

The moral of this story is to have confidence in what you have to offer, and do your best at what you do. Teamwork and diversity are the essence of a business’s success.

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