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It’s good that you have a smart, ambitious leadership team. How else could you get from here to there? But how will you herd these cats? I mean, by definition their mental gears turn at high speed and some may have a little attitude about that, too, as in, “Why should I slow down to listen to you?” Here are a couple of answers to those questions.
First, have a look at a marvelous Harvard Business Review article, Leading People Too Smart to Be Led, by Robert C. Wolcott. He has six “oughta be” common sense suggestions for leading smart people and I guarantee that one of them will make you chuckle, even as you are nodding your head in agreement.
Second, imagine that the majority of your really smart folks are human beings and that they act and respond in typical human fashion. Just in case that describes your people, in your efforts to lead them try treating them in ways that people like to be treated.
For example, let them know that you care. No, that doesn’t have to mean hugging everyone – although feel free to hug at yours and others’ discretion. What it means is to do things like challenge people. Challenge them to be their best, but the reason for your challenge is not to spike your bottom line, although that will happen; it’s because they’re too important to be less than their best. It’s because you care enough about them to give them a challenge that’s worthy of them. It’s because you respect them and their abilities.
All of that delivers the “I care about you” message and builds trust, and that’s the bedrock for your smart people to stand on as they follow you.
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