6 Tips for Managing People Who Are Smarter Than You
September 12th, 2016
What is that you say? People SMARTER than you? Yes, that is correct. Being the boss does not always mean you are the expert on all things, nor that you are even the smartest person on your team.
The way you manage those assets on your team is crucial, as it can set a difference between being perceived as an encouraging leader or as someone who cannot put their own ego aside. The latter is toxic to your team!
Here are 6 of our best tips for managing those at the top of their class:
1. Think of yourself as the translator. As the leader, you must take the exceptional qualities of said smarty and learn the best way to apply them, both individually and as part of a team. Learn how to best explain or introduce those strengths to the team, so they also see the trait as a benefit. You are the go-between, the fixer, the communicator.
2. Encourage your team to embrace the ‘we’ mentality over the ‘I’. By pushing the group’s collaborative efforts, natural strengths will play out more organically, rather than being highlighted in a way that makes others feel inferior. Make sure end-goals are clear and common language is being used throughout the group to avoid communication errors.
3. Constantly one- up yourself. By this, we simply mean that if you continuously find yourself to be the smartest on your team, you need to start hiring better. You want to be surrounded by a competent team of individuals who can stand independently and hold their own. You should always be challenging your team (and yourself) to be better, try harder, and get smarter!
4. Show interest, have respect, and teach from a place of experience. Making an effort to hear ideas and opinions can be tough, but it is vital in keeping smart people from feeling ignored. Respect the difference in expertise or advantages some may have over others. When you do take on the leadership role, be sure to call upon your experience as your authority making trait.
5. Your role is to “make space” as some experts say. Lead the way to a cultivating environment in which you encourage others to blossom and find their own niche. Keep looking out for promotional opportunities that can bolster confidence in employees who may feel they are ‘too big for their britches’.
6. If you don’t know, ask! Questions are key when managing someone smarter (or younger!) than you. Their knowledge is curated and fresh; it’s not to be ignored. Don’t pretend you know what something is when you don’t—ask questions. Be inquisitive and interested, and let them teach you a thing or two.