Why have super smart people around if you aren’t going to use their thinking? Why have super smart people around if you aren’t going to ask their opinions? Why have super smart people around if you won’t give them autonomy?
It’s a waste.
I have thought a lot about people (clearly, as I have written about it many times) – and the value they bring to a company and a team, and I have landed on what I feel is a pretty powerful direction of letting smart people do smart things. Let me explain.
Far too often, I walk into a business consultancy, look around the room and find the CEO dictating every direction of the company. Sure, the CEO is in a position to do so, and, in most cases, feels the need to direct everything because of the massive amount of pressure from both in and outside of the company. However, if a leadership team – including extensions outside of the CEO – are unwilling to leverage the smarts of the people they recruit, then, they leave something big on the table – talent, opinions and possibilities.
There are a few things that go into the process of letting smart people “do.”
First, a culture of boundaries with autonomy seems to build the strongest businesses that exist. Those cultures still manage through expectations, yet allow people to figure out how to get to the finish line – and offer coaching/mentoring when they can’t. These cultures are much like math problems that your teacher hated grading – the ones where you put the right answer, but the “showing” of your work didn’t align with their expectations. That’s not autonomy.
Now, under this type of culture, there are still responsibilities of the leadership team to manage through boundaries or KPIs. This is where indicators become so important in determining if you have the right smart person in the right seat:
- Are they hitting their KPIs or reaching the established, expected result?
- If not, are they putting in the effort and energy to reach set goals?
- Are they being respectful to you, the process and others on their journey?
- Are they showing that they care with responsiveness, attitude and hustle?
- Do they show they believe in the mission at hand?
Then, with an established process, you narrow your team down to people who are willing to put in the effort, be respectful and do it all at a speed that will lead to success. This is the way you build championship teams – ones where not everyone is created equal, but everyone is willing to work together for a common goal or good.
Not everyone will be smart for your company – even those who are still smart individuals. Companies are made of teams – teams that feature a variety of strengths and weaknesses.
Winning is possible when you let smart people do what they know. But, be cautious to sniff out cancer or bullshit to ensure you don’t screw up the mindsets or overwhelm other smart people within the organization.
If you don’t want the opinions of others, that’s perfectly fine. If that’s the case, save the money and just hire dumb people who aren’t respectful, don’t give a shit and lack a belief that accomplishing greatness is a possibility.