Leaders who move up, end up leading people who are smarter than they are. Be thankful, even if it’s stressful.
Leaders who need to be the smartest person in the room:
- Propagate dumb teams.
- Hinder the development of talent.
- Produce unfruitful competition.
- Obscure the brilliance of bright talented teammates.
Remarkable leaders share the spotlight. They don’t steal it.
The path to dumber:
Smart leaders surround themselves with even smarter people. When you hire people smarter than you, comparatively speaking, you become dumber. (Even though it’s smart.)
Aspire to be the dumbest smart person at the table.
7 smart things to do when your team is smarter than you:
#1. Don’t put yourself down.
Don’t say, “You’re so much smarter than me.” Say, “I’m really impressed with your skill in this area.”
#2. Work on leadership, management, and people skills. People skills matter more than technical, when you lead the team.
#3. Let people know you’re counting on them. “I’m counting on you,” is more powerful than, “I”m intimidated in this new role.”
#4. Learn and practice coaching. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has a swimming coach. I’d wager Michael’s coach doesn’t swim as well as Michael.
- Ask smart questions.
- Give powerful feedback.
- Craft next steps.
- Establish accountability.
Set high standards if you expect the best from smart people.
#5. Keep everyone in the loop. Don’t use knowledge as status. Leaders who keep smart people in the dark hobble everyone.
#6. Voice smart questions to smart teammates.
- What are some important issues?
- What are some potential next steps?
- What contingencies should we consider?
- What are some key inflection points as we move forward?
#7. Imperative: Make decisions. Don’t abdicate decision-making responsibility to subject area experts.
- Seek multiple options.
- Make decisions.
- Apologize when you screw up.
- Stay humble when you’re right.
- Keep moving forward.
What smart things might leaders do when they lead teams who are smarter than them?