By Jeff Beals
You have probably heard the saying, “To be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.”
For better or worse, that hasn’t been terribly difficult for me. I’ve been blessed with many intelligent, talented people in my career – colleagues, bosses, direct reports and friends. I’m a better person and a more successful professional because of the gifted people in my life.
Whether you’re at work or in your personal life, surround yourself with smart and talented people. If you are in a leadership position, hire people who are smarter than you.
Of course, that is easier said than done.
Surrounding yourself with more talented people can be very intimidating. And a blow to the ego. And even threatening! Nevertheless, move forward with faith and conviction that you will be better served by teaming up people who are better than you at certain things.
Hiring Talented People
As a leader, have no fear of hiring people you think might pass you up someday. It is better to be seen as a person who brings in and develops great talent than a person who protects the status quo by hiring mediocre or under-performing people.
Don’t Hide the Light under a Bushel
When you do end up employing an ultra-talented, hardworking individual, don’t try to hide them or prevent them from moving up just because you don’t want to lose them. Great talent rises to the top. Let the exceptional person move up. In the long run, it will benefit you as they will remember and appreciate the role you played in boosting their career. A former employee who makes it big can become a huge ally for you in the future.
Friends and Colleagues
Regardless of your professional role, identify talented friends and colleagues and build close relationships with them. Another old saying tells us that you tend to become who you hang out with. Spending time with exceptional people makes you more exceptional.
Have a Mentor and Become One Too
Mentorship is one of the best professional development tools in existence. We benefit both by being mentored and by mentoring others. Find a successful role model and use that person as your mentor. Some mentors don’t even have to know they are your mentor – just study them and do the things they do. Other mentor relationships might be more formal. At that same time, mentor someone yourself. You actually become better in your work by teaching and coaching junior colleagues. As I once wrote in a previous article, you don’t know it until you’ve taught it. Mentorship is a classic win-win situation.
Here’s something that might help salve a bruised ego resulting from hanging around smarter people: There are different kinds of intelligence.
Just because a colleague is smarter than you in one area doesn’t mean he or she is better in another. Perhaps you struggle with creativity and idea-generation but have superior analytical skills. Team up with the creative person and together you can accomplish more. You might not be as quick to pick up operational details as a certain person but maybe you are better at building relationships and navigating institutional politics.
When it comes to intelligence and talent, we all need to identify our top strengths and biggest weaknesses. You can maximize your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses by joining forces with people whose abilities complement your own.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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