THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM
You know him. He’s the smartest guy in the room. The one who knows more than anyone else, will solve any and all problems, and will find a problem to solve if one doesn’t exist.
What happens when this kind of behavior comes from a team leader?
What happens is that everyone else shuts down as he summarily rejects any idea or initiative. It sends a discouraging message to his team and undermines their self worth and motivation. It also violates my first rule of leadership: it’s not about you.
Most like to offer advice, share thoughts and participate in something bigger than themselves. That’s why fostering a positive, open environment can encourage creativity and productivity. Otherwise, executives run the risk of wasting untapped talent because many will shut down when discouraged to share in innovation.
A leader must rise above the tactical and lead with a strategic view. Bring smart and talented people together and guide their interactions and collaboration. Keep the effort focused and stay on task. Be supportive, yet ask the hard questions. Let others develop the good ideas and get the credit with your oversight and guidance. That’s not being smart, that’s being the leader.
And don’t act like the smartest guy in the room, because you aren’t.
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Little, Brown and Company
(October 24, 2017)