There’s an old saying, “if you look around the room and can’t find the dumbest person, then it must be you.” But is being the smartest person in the room the best thing for us as leaders?

Let’s face it, we all encounter situations in which we want to appear as the smartest person in the room.  But the most talented leaders surround themselves by greater minds than their own.

Sometimes in our attempt to save time, we can be quick to make decisions, thinking we already know the answer without listening.  In reality, taking the time to listen carefully to different perspectives and obtain more complete information leads to better decision-making. We’re all expected to accomplish more with less, and time is the most scarce of resources.  But the cost of rushing to decisions can be much greater than the time it takes to listen.

Recognizing that we don’t know all the answers can actually engage our team members, showing them that their input is valuable and needed.  Dale Carnegie said that when leading others,

“Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.”

Taking time to ask questions and listen for understanding encourages others to participate, and the team will have greater buy-in with the final decision as a result.  The “smartest” person doesn’t have to have all the answers and make all of the decisions The “smartest” leaders know how to draw the answers from their team.

Next time you call a team meeting, set an appropriate amount of time to discuss issues, listen more than you talk, and encourage the quieter ones to speak.  Over time it will increase your credibility, trust and respect as a leader.

Posted by Bob Price

Bob brings a very diverse background to his position Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Dale Carnegie Training. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo he was recruited into an operations management position with a national industrial chemical distributor. The operations background in distribution gave him the foundation to move into a successful career selling chemicals and the company’s hazardous waste management program which he received their highest performance award twice. He moved away from industrial sales to more strategic solution based sales when he joined Right Management the largest global career transition company in the world. There he worked with senior managers to design solutions to deliver specific predetermined results. As the Vice President of Strategic Solutions with Dale Carnegie, Bob has worked with companies both large and small to collaborate on professional growth strategies which provide his clients with the tools and resources to achieve their organization goals and objectives. He has been nationally recognized in the top 10% of Dale Carnegie’s consultants for each of the past three years.

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