Hello Leader,

This Key points to a blind spot that can dramatically hurt a manager’s chances to succeed. There is a pivotal decision you have to make to realize your potential for greatness. Consider Jerry’s decision in the story below. We’ll be glad to hear from you with your comments.


Aviv Shahar

Who is the smartest and the brightest?

Jerry is the leader of a large organization and has 36 years of experience in his field. He has seen just about everything and he truly knows his stuff. When I asked him “what’s your first priority as the leader of a large organization?” he said: “To surround myself with the brightest people I can find. The biggest blind spot a manager can have is thinking you need to be the smartest and the brightest. I have seen many managers fail because they thought they needed to know more than everybody else on everything. They were afraid to lose authority. I count on bright people to show me what I don’t see. Leadership is recognizing the right opportunity when you see it. As a leader you let your people help you by giving them the opportunity to lead and show you the best ideas, brightest solutions and the smartest course of action.”

The blind spot

Jerry is loved and respected by his people for inspiring them to continually grow as managers and bring to the table their best ideas. “Earlier in my career,” he said “I saw managers who failed by trying to be the smartest and brightest person in every engagement. They feared the loss of authority and they hurt their company. They hurt their team by not encouraging other people to show their strengths. They thought the only way to lead was to be the top expert and so, consciously or not, they didn’t hire the smartest and brightest people, fearing a possible threat. This is a blind spot and trap you don’t want to fall into.”

“I decided,” he said, “to surround myself with the brightest and smartest people I can find and to cheer them on in their contributions as part of a successful team. If there is a secret to my success this is it. The team is the smartest. You’ve got to protect your people from your own insecurity of needing to be seen as the smartest. You’ve got to let your people shine and let yourself be helped by people with a variety of intelligences and smarts.”

Reflect and act
Here are a few questions for you to think about:

  1. Do you hire the smartest and brightest people you can find?
  2. Do you feel threatened by smart people? Do you let your people show their full strengths?
  3. What strategies do you use to encourage people to their strengths? Do you coach and guide talent?
  4. Do you make a point to recognize and include multiple smarts and intelligences?
  5. What is the source of your confidence and authority?
    Is it:
    • A. Your title
    • B. Your record
    • C. Your expertise and superior knowledge
    • D. Your high ethical and moral ground
    • E. A clear sense of vision
    • F. Your proven intuition
    • G. Your team and support network
    • H. Your focus on the highest self-interest of all involved
    • I. Something else

Now it’s your turn. Turn the key!

© Aviv Shahar

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