What Are You Smart About?
“You learn something every day.” I can still hear my mothers’ supportive appreciation for my childlike wisdom.
“Well, I’ll be!” she would say, every time I shared something I had just learned.
Thinking back, it was probably something she had known for years but she listened to me like it was the first time she’d ever heard such an important insight coming from a human.
Appreciating people for what they know is one of the hidden gems of leadership.
Consider the team meeting. You can see from the body language that the same two people are, once again, just not into it.
They don’t engage, they look at their phone, and start packing their gear before the time is up.
Meanwhile, your superstars can barely contain their excitement for the project. Their ideas carry the day.
As a leader with an overpacked calendar, nothing is more frustrating than setting time aside for people who don't engage.
Yet deep down you think to yourself, what am I doing wrong? or What is wrong with them? As if it's one or the other. Consider a third alternative by seeking diversity of knowledge.
When it comes to the fence-sitters, find out, “what are you smart about?” What is your deeper level of knowledge? It could be the hidden wisdom that unlocks the next level in the project.
Often, a fence sitters' lack of buy-in may represent the opinion of a larger group of stakeholders who share the same objection. We all know that dissenters are vital to the process. Getting to know what they know may mean the difference between success and failure.
It could also be they know something you already know, in the same way, I'm sure my mother did. However, their experiences and depth of understanding bring a fresh perspective.
When people share their innate wisdom, the thing they are smart about, it has a quality to it that resonates with the entire room. It’s like hearing that single note in a symphony that stays with you. On the other hand, the chorus of the converted tends to drown it out.
"When you only listen to the smartest person in the room,
you miss what everyone else is smart about. Everyone you meet knows something you don't and has wisdom from experiences you haven't lived.
"Every conversation is a chance to learn something new."
What are you smart about?
PS Calling all leaders! I am doing research for my next book, Becoming Us: Where Empathy and Productivity Lead to Deep Work. If you are a leader of a team or a team of teams, I would love to connect!
Please book a call with me below! I promise it will be short and sweet!
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