Are You the Smartest Person in the Room?

By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Are you the smartest person in the room? If so, you are in the wrong room. Too many people want to be the smartest in the room, and they love to let us know that they are. Sadly, they are doomed professionally. Unless you are around smarter people, people who are ahead of you on your professional journey, you become trapped by a self-imposed leadership cap.

Law #1, The Law of the Lid, in John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership tells us that leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. I learned this lesson the hard way while I was President of Selflock Screw Products. Early in my career at SSP, I had a great mentor who challenged me and spoke into my life. My lid was being raised, the company was successful, and I was getting the credit for it. Naively, I believed those who were praising my efforts and didn’t realize that the growth was facilitated by my mentor. Once he went on to his eternal reward, I went back to my stagnant lack of growth. Soon, the results on my low leadership lid began to show and no matter how many hours I worked, things didn’t get any better.

Once I realized the issue and found a new room with smarter people; growth could take off again.  My entire outlook on life shifted. No longer was I asking the question can I or can’t I, but rather how can I? I learned that for every problem there is an answer, you just need to ask the right questions.

How about you? Are you the smartest person in the room? If so, change rooms as quickly as you can. My good friend and coaching client Brian Butler from United Radio once said, “Don’t waste the opportunity to be a great leader.” Leadership is a privilege, not a right. It’s time to excel.

Join me on this week’s episode of The Next Page podcast, episode 66, with MACNY’s President and CEO, and author of Present-Future Leader, Randy Wolken. We discuss why Randy wrote the book and what is needed to lead our organizations into the future.

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