I recently met with a colleague in the mortgage industry. He was discussing the pitfalls associated with being the leader of his team, the need to constantly be “the guy” to make things happen. I could sympathize, as I share the same concern.
The time and energy I spend to pull the rest of my team forward, as opposed to having the team harness its collective energy to push me to greater success, can be draining, frustrating and ultimately counter-productive. I mentioned that my goal was to be the “dumbest guy in the room,” as that always provides me the greatest learning and growth opportunity.
The best thing that can happen to you in assembling a team is finding people who are smarter, more creative, or in some way more talented than you are. It’s like winning the lottery. Suddenly you’ve got a team member whose talent will very likely improve everyone’s performance and reputation. Including yours.
Yes, it’s human nature to feel fearful that a “superior” team member could make you look, well, inferior, and perhaps undermine your authority, but in reality, the exact opposite usually occurs.
The reason is that leaders are generally not judged on their personal output. What would be the point of evaluating them like individual contributors? Rather, most leaders are judged on how well they’ve hired, coached, and motivated their people, individually and collectively, all of which shows up in the results. That’s why when you sign up top performers and release their energy, you don’t look bad. You look like the goose that laid the golden egg.
So keep laying them. It is a rare company that doesn’t love a leader who finds great people and creates an environment where they flourish. And you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do that. Indeed, when you consistently demonstrate that leadership skill and come to be known as the person in your company who can land and build the best, watch your business take off.
Now, we’re not saying that finding or managing “superior” members on your team is easy. Identifying and attracting talent to your organization in a completive environment is never easy. You need a well-defined uniqueness and vision for your business and you hope that others share in that vision. That is where your motivation, experience, self-confidence, and coaching come into play.
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