This is something that plagues businesses of any size and description. It is not just localised to SME’s and entrepreneurs. But the boss does not have to be the smartest person in the room!
If we look back a couple of posts; we have dug deeper as to the role of an entrepreneur and what they need to bring to the organisation. Throughout that journey – being the smartest has never been a criteria. The entrepreneur brings the idea; they bring the drive and the passion; but there are many facets of a successful business venture that stretch far wider than just these.
I think this links very closely to the entrepreneur transitioning from; just that; the entrepreneur through to a business leader.
The entrepreneur does not have to be the best at everything and they don’t have to control everything on a micro level. There needs to be a lot of trust and mutual respect between the entrepreneur and their first hires. And with that – the entrepreneur needs to be sure that they know how to manage those hires who in many instances should be smarter than them – at the very least – in the vertical where they were employed; accounts; sales; marketing; etc.
But how does an entrepreneur work with and manage those people? Here are some guidelines:
- Know Your Strengths: Focus on the strengths you have, rather than the skills or knowledge you lack. Aim to perform within your sphere of influence and leave them to do the same in theirs.
- Become great as asking questions: This is a tricky one to master – because questions asked incorrectly are bloody annoying! But the only way to learn is to ask questions – the right questions that are not phrased in such a way that they come across as being passive-aggressive micro management!
- Focus on what you can control: As Gwynne Shotwell said as the Women 2.0 Conference, “You can’t control whether you’re the smartest person in the room, but you can certainly control whether you’re the most prepared.” Make sure that you are on top of your game and raise the bar in terms of performance from the team around you. Inculcate a culture of high performance!***
- A collaborative culture: I have typically found that smart people often work alone. Make sure that they understand the importance of collaboration and sharing in each others successes and strengths.
- Reward excellence: This is tagged quite closely to a high performance culture and a collaborative culture. A manager who leads and guides an intelligent, high and performing team to success isn’t necessarily the better paper pusher or office politician. A successful manager cultivates the talents of their workers. Instead of trying to match wits with them; empower them to shine within their own rights. Guaranteed a lot of that shine will land on you as well!
***side bar: Please DO NOT read that to mean “inculcate a culture of working ridiculously long hours.”!! Being a high performer does not mean that you work longer than anyone else. It simply means that when you are delivering results – your results are of a superior quality. Sure some people take a long time to get those results; but don’t punish those who don’t take as long!***