Seven Ways Smart Leaders Get Even Smarter
Brilliant leaders end up saying, “Doh!” sometimes. Talent doesn’t exempt you from doing dumb things, neither does intelligence.
The fool who “knows” is dangerous and destructive.
7 ways smart leaders get even smarter:
#1. Treat negative feedback like a romantic partner. Seek it. Welcome it. Explore it. Love it.
Kiss the people who correct you.
Negative feedback confronts and changes you; positive affirms and confirms.
Defensiveness makes you dumb.
#2. Compare up, not down. Compare yourself with smart people. Dumb people think they’re smarter than everyone else.
Don’t think of yourself as dumb, just find brilliance in others.
#3. Honor achievers. When you honor achievers, you open your mind to learn from them. Dumb leaders minimize the grit, skill, and intelligence it takes to make progress and achieve results. “Oh! That was easy.”
The need to win closes hearts to the achievement of others.
Respect for the achievement of others is a step toward learning from them.
#4. Stop repeating dumb behaviors. Everything that feels right, isn’t. Blunt-skulls ignore the message of recurring frustration. You haven’t reached higher because you’re hoping the same ineffective behavior will magically become effective.
#5. Acknowledge frailty. Your sharp brain will fade, sooner than you think.
Arrogance makes you dumb. Humility opens your heart.
Wisdom is a matter of the heart, not the head.
#6. Listen longer than necessary.
#7. Control your temper. Outbursts are a fools solution.
Bonus: Make the pursuit of wisdom the first pursuit of life.
The ultimate pursuit of life isn’t happiness, love, or success, it’s wisdom.
What behaviors or attitudes make smart leaders even smarter?
Learning from mistakes and blunders is a sign of a person that is still learning. Refusing to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them is a red flag. The leader that thinks they know it all is sure to have big problems. The ability to see our faults and learn from them is key to continued growth and success.
Thanks Jay. Yes! Although, it can be difficult to own our mistakes. 🙂 … But, we step toward wisdom when we do. It all feels so strange that mistakes are so closely connected to wisdom.
Leaders may truly sincerely genuinely want feedback but unless they are explicit in asking for it and making it safe to do so, most staff are too afraid. Fear is big out there. If you want feedback, openly say the words, “I really want to know what you think even if you think I won’t like it or don’t agree. Please tell me anyway.” Then repeat often.
Thanks bj. Absolutely. Perhaps the way we receive negative feedback is the most important thing about it. Positive response to negative feedback means you may receive more. I must confess that negative feedback still stings for me. I want to defend or explain. I want to focus on that little bit that isn’t true and use that to ignore the part that is.
To listen is to learn. When you have heard both sides of the story, perhaps you should listen and see if there are more facets and reflect on what will be the outcome of your leadership in response to this challenge to the mission.
Thanks Marshall. “To listen is to learn,” feels powerful. My problem is sometimes I listen to prove wrong. I guess listening to prove someone is wrong isn’t listening at all. So, your statement stands.
My late Grandma said, you never stop learning! Wisdom is the true gold we should be seeking! Thanks for the reminder!
Thanks for Grandmas!
Feedback should be taking as a blessing – Actually its always positive, we call it negative feedback because we don’t like what was said. As you mentioned Dan, we often listen to find defend not really to learn from it. It is an important trait of of leader to be able to listen to feedback with an open mind and more importantly, take corrective actions.
Thanks Tej. I like how you frame this conversation around positive rather than negative. You are right. One reason we call it negative is we don’t like it.
I am working on an action research project (MSEL related) related to active and authentic listening (Cashman, 2008) and if you do not mind I would like to cite item “#6 Listen longer than necessary” in my paper. This is one intervention that I had not thought of and that is allowing a pause and listening longer than necessary. A little millisecond of silence is welcomed and powerful. L
Thanks LP. Glad to be useful. Go for it.
I like all these but acknowledge frailty is one I think we often overlook. As a 50 something I occasionally look back and think look at what I have achieved and wonder if I could do that all again if I started now. Now I like to use that experience to ask good questions of those who are the next generation of innovators. Interesting to sit on a different side of the fence now and not hold back those horses but instead let them choose the path they want to as long as they have the evidence to inform.
Thanks teacher. What’s cool about your comment is your passion to fuel the passion of others. Or, in the context of this post, your passion to tap into the “smarts” of young people.
The first one has been a bit of a struggle for me, but I am learning to take correction. It normally comes from those who really have my best interests at heart anyway.
Thanks oikosocial. I’m with you. It takes awareness and intention to stay open to negative feedback.
I’m interested that you think wisdom trumps love. I know wisdom can be used to help us grow in love, but as someone once said “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, …, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Thanks Dan. Good point. My thought is that wise people understand the importance of love. It is wise to love.
Some great points.
Following point 1: I believe the term you might be looking for instead of dumb is stupid. There are other words that might be more appropriate. Merriam-Webster online might guide you through the nouns you are wanting to use.
Thanks Dr.O. I was grappling with which term to use.
Your blog posts are very rarely of little value, always of great interest. But this has to be, for me, near or at the top of the “value” list!!! Indeed, I would add that a smart person in some sense intentionally leads themself AND provides informal leadership while not an appointed leader, this post is or should be valued by everyone!!!
Wisdom is not knowledge in that wisdom implies an experience that assists in further applying said knowledge. The smart person never sees the learning as having an end and always is willing to learn – from their successes and failures and from the testimony of the same from others.
Love reading your blogs Dan I think that listening more than necessary is huge when it comes to building relationships!
I also think that a leader can get even smarter if leaders realize their true function. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Even Bill Gates said “As we look into the next century leaders will be those who empower others.”
I like making negative criticism a friend, but I have to confess that after practicing this for years, I still have a little ken-monster inside that wants to fight and defend!
I also practice listening longer and find it a wonderful tool/attitude. It conveys respect (without seeming to butter-up) and says in a practical way – I’m able to learn from you! There’s a lot locked inside other we can benefit from.
listening is also the language of love, people love when someone invests in them.
An open mouth dulls the eyes and the ears.
More and more I have come to believe that how you react to adversity says so much about you as a leader. We’re going to make mistakes and receive feedback that we would prefer not to receive. The key is in how we respond to it. Do we learn from it, not make the mistake again and then be able to share that learning with others in the future? Or do we just hide it and attribute it to a bad day. A good leader learns from mistakes and becomes even a better leader.
Thanks Bill. Everyone looks intelligent and trustworthy when things are going well. When storms erupt the truth comes out. You might say the darkness is a light that reveals a leader’s true character.
Humility is at the heart of success when the storm rises.