Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed what it was about Sheryl Sandberg that made him realize she belonged on Facebook’s team. And it’s a lesson to all CEOs and hiring managers looking to recruit impactful talent.
In an episode of “Masters of Scale,” the podcast hosted by LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman, Zuckerberg sang Sandberg’s praises before explaining how she helped him realize what the “single most important thing” for entrepreneurs growing their businesses is. It’s what separates good businesses from great businesses, and the thing that truly defines an entrepreneur’s growth potential.
“When I look at my friends who are running other good companies,” Zuckerberg said,” the single biggest difference that I see in whether the companies end up becoming really great and reaching their potential or just pretty good is whether they’re comfortable and really self-confident enough to have people who are stronger than them around them.”
Zuckerberg attributes much of his and his company’s success to his self-confidence in hiring Sandberg, who had already demonstrated her business savvy as a key figure at Google and the chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers before joining Facebook in March 2008. Rather than feeling intimidated and territorial due to Sandberg’s strength, he saw an opportunity to work with someone who was in some ways stronger and smarter than him, and he took it.
"There are all of these things, for example, that Sheryl is much stronger than me at, and that makes me better and makes Facebook better," he said. "I am not afraid or threatened by that. I value that."
Ultimately, his experience in hiring and working with Sandberg has led him to solidify a hiring rule for himself going forward — and it’s something that more companies would do well to heed.
“I’ve adopted this hiring rule, which is that you should never hire someone to work for you unless you would work for them in an alternate universe,” Zuckerberg continued. “Which doesn’t mean that you should give them your job, but if the tables were turned and you were looking for a job, would you be comfortable with working for this person? And I basically think that if the answer to that question is no, then you’re doing something expedient but you’re not doing something as well as you can on that.”
Since joining Facebook in 2008 as COO, Sandberg has helped turn a company with a $56 million deficit into one with over $10 billion in annual net revenue. And we gotta say, Zuckerberg — we’re pretty fond of her, too.
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