Telling the world how smart you are

I’ve had the privilege of meeting leaders who consider themselves smart, ambitious, successful, experienced, motivated, or any other adjective spend an inordinate chunk of time positioning themselves above the people they work with. If that’s you, let me tell you — it is damn annoying!

Of course, all that positioning might not be apparent, but it seeps through when you talk about that time in your other company or war stories from the boardroom, locker room, or courtroom. There’s this constant need to show people that we’re smarter than they think we are.

So much so that at times we even tell people how smart we are by saying things like, “yeah, I know,” or “I heard this yesterday,” or “I read that message last week.”

Does the world need to hear how smart you are? Won’t they figure it out themselves if you are? After all these years of studying leadership, Heck, what I’ve come to realize is this — it doesn’t matter how smart you are if the people around you don’t know how smart they are.

So, if you’ve been busy proving how smart you are, I suggest you pursue a worthwhile mission, such as enabling your team to go further by enlightening them on how smart, talented, and capable they are. That might mean you will have to let people walk out of the room without knowing how smart and well-informed you are.

Can you afford to do that? Because if you can live without the need to put your stamp of superiority on the situation, the people around you might begin to experience what it means to be relevant, helpful, and engaged at the workplace.

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