- May 16, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
That’s a problem with a lot of leaders. We think we’re supposed to know everything. That if we’re in charge, it must be because we’ve mastered everything about the company, even if we secretly know that’s not the case.
The only thing worse is believing you know everything. That you know more, that you have better ideas, and that you’re always the smartest one in the room.
I’ve always believed that if I’m the smartest one in the room, I’m in the wrong room. I need to have people smarter than me around me, because they’re the ones who make me look good.
In that vein — or “vain,” for some — a leader sets the tone for the whole company with his or her attitude about themselves. By managing or not managing their own ego, the company becomes a reflection of their personality.
If you think you know everything, and you have to show off how smart you are, you’re going to attract people who do that with their own staff. They may not be smarter than you, but they’re certainly smarter than the people who work for them, and so it trickles on down the line.
(It also makes the company worse, because those people will purposely hire people who are less smart and capable than they are, so they don’t look bad in front of everyone else. Pretty soon, the pursuit of intelligence and capabilities become a race to the bottom.)
This is a dangerous trap and a sure road to ruin.
You need to realize that just because you’re the leader of the organization, it doesn’t mean you’re always right, or that it makes you a good manager.
Being able to listen and also intellectualize is a more important skill. And if you’re wrong, being able to admit it quickly. Don’t try to hide it, don’t try to cover it up, and don’t pretend it never happened.
Further, if one of your staff has a great idea, give them the responsibility and the authority to execute it to a conclusion. Don’t claim the idea for yourself, and don’t shoot it down just because you didn’t come up with it. This is why you need smart people around you — because they’re the ones who come up with the smart ideas, and if you give them the responsibility, they’re the ones who will do all the work.
That’s entrepreneurial thinking, and if you let them, your employees will come up with some great ideas and develop them.
I used to tell my staff whenever they had a new idea, “the worst that will happen is that I’ll have a good laugh, but I promise, you’ll recover from that.” And that’s the worst that happened, because I never faulted someone for failing while pursuing a good idea. It meant they gave it their best effort, they learned something important, and they were one step closer to actually finding success.
Smart Leaders Lead to Innovation and Success
If you want to have an innovative company filled with smart people who work hard, that starts with you. That starts with you hiring the smartest people you can get. And then teaching those people to hire people smarter than them, and so on. If all goes well, you’ll be surrounded by a company filled with people who know more about their jobs than you do. All you have to know how to do is make smart decisions, how to manage people and get the best work out of them, and how to manage your operations and resources.
By setting this tone for your company, you’ll have a company of innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers. You’ll have a company filled with people who want to come to work and do their best work for you. And as a result, you’ll have a company that grows to dominate the industry and surpass the competition.
All because you were willing to bring your brains inside and leave your ego at the front door.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Wokandapix (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)