Smart Leaders Bring Out the Best in People

Do you work for a genius? Are your organization’s leaders really smart, and do they focus on bringing out the best in other people?

Some corporations have made hiring the most intelligent individuals a core strategy on the basis that smarter people can solve problems more quickly than the competition. But that only works if the organizations can access that intelligence.         ~ Stephen R. Covey

According to surveys on engagement, most workers have greater capabilities, creativity, talent, initiative and resourcefulness than their jobs allow—or even require—them to use.

Other surveys reveal that most workers feel pressured to produce more with less.

These results are paradoxical: People are underutilized and overworked at the same time.

Fortunately, some leaders understand how to create genius within their teams: They bring out the best in people utilizing their natural gifts and talents… They can be called “genius-makers.”

Many bosses, however, seem to excel at draining people of their intelligence and abilities.

Management guru Peter Drucker predicted the challenge of managing knowledge workers in the 21st century:

The most valuable assets of the 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.

For the most part, leaders are highly intelligent and capable professionals—traits that facilitate their promotion to management. Some, however, experience a bumpy climb up the leadership ladder. So, how does one successfully make the shift from genius to genius-maker?

Leadership consultants Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown explore this question in Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (HarperBusiness, 2010).

Some bosses make us better and smarter by eliciting and revitalizing our intelligence. Others seem to stifle intelligence and capability, always wanting to be seen as the smartest person in the room. They suck the energy out of the team, whose members end up looking or feeling dumb. IQs seem to drop, and meeting times double.

Have you ever worked for a boss like this? In the work I do coaching executives, I hear some pretty horrific stories. I’d love to hear your experiences, leave a comment!

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