One of my joys in life is getting to work with so many really smart, competent and accomplished people. One challenge for smart people is that it’s so hard to be humble. Many grew up having good, or great, grades in school . Others excelled in other ways. It may have led to a really good college. Getting hired by a premier company is a natural next step, and hard work leads to being accomplished.
Those who were smart, hard working and lucky end up getting promoted and many of them eventually get to come to Change Masters. We often see clients mid-career, which is the point where being really smart tends to become a potential liability. Hard-driving and smart in the first decade is usually a good thing. Somewhere between 35 and 45 years-old, leading with your smarts can really hurt you in two ways.
If you think you are the smartest person in the room and make that known to others it will work against you:
- The worst option for a leader is when others don’t agree you’re the smartest, and then you’re seen as a jerk and lose your followers. You also lose their advice and support.
- Even if you know more, it can be demoralizing to work for a smart boss who undervalues her followers. It certainly is not motivating!
- The role of a leader is to maximize their followers. Intelligence is often not the most important attribute to accomplish that goal. Good listening, for example, may be much more important than intellect.
- If you are still living with an over-reliance on intellect from your school days, and many do, it is time to rethink reality. It has been said that “A” students are experts working for “B” students who are managers in companies owned by “C” students.
- The last note I will make is that if you truly are the smartest person in the room … you need to find a new room (or get some smarter people in the room ASAP).
Not only are there many types of intelligence that need to be combined to gain optimal team effectiveness, but we need others around us who can stretch our thinking and knowledge to grow personally.
Bottom-line: If you think you are the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find an different room.