It may seem obvious that a leader should want to be the smartest person in the room. Intelligent leadership is valuable, and companies benefit from the skills of high-level employees. However, it may not always be the best thing to be the smartest person in the room.

Many people believe that if you think you are the smartest person in the room, you need to find a new room. Others believe that self-congratulation on one’s own intelligence and capabilities leads to ineffective leadership.

Leader in a meeting

Dr. Dallas Dance explores what it means to never be the smartest person in the room and explains how this principle can be applied to businesses of all types and sizes.

False Belief in Their Capabilities

Many people who believe they are the smartest person in the room simply are not. An egotistical mindset may cause many ineffective leaders to believe that they are outsmarting every one of their employees when, in fact, they are considerably behind others in comprehension levels. Self-congratulation is an insidious practice, and growth-minded leaders do not engage in it.

Have the Confidence to Hire Smarter People

It takes a great deal of confidence to hire people who are smarter than yourself. This is a bold move, and it shows your security in your position and in who you are. By hiring smarter employees, you make it clear that you are not primarily concerned with your place on the corporate ladder. You are creating opportunities for these people to grow and learn, benefiting your whole company as a result.

Learning Will Never Be Finished

Growth-minded leaders understand that their own learning will never be finished. Rather than resting on their laurels and believing they are the smartest people in the room, they work constantly to improve their skills.

Higher IQ Individuals are Less Effective Leaders

This may seem counterintuitive, but as a leader’s IQ rises, their leadership capability diminishes. This may happen because a leader with the highest IQ may not have the communication skills required to be effective. They may also fall into the trap of believing that they can do no wrong due to their superior intellect. Leaders who do test high on intelligence tests need to remember to be humble and to treat their employees with respect.

Business leadership meeting

Competitiveness and Teamwork

Too often, employees and leaders who believe themselves to be intellectually superior to their peers try to out-compete everyone in the office. This adversarial attitude can harm the dynamics of the team and can sour people on doing their jobs. Inter-office competition can be healthy in small doses, but everyone should keep the overall goals of the company in mind when doing their work.

Find a Mentor

Part of finding a growth mindset and accepting that you do not already know all the answers is engaging with a mentor. You may find that an older and more experienced person in your workplace or in a related field can give you good advice on topics that you may not be familiar with. Through mentoring, you can work on the skills you need to improve while relying on another person’s guidance.

Pure Intelligence is Not Everything

Just as in school, people may be “good testers” but have trouble absorbing the dynamics of education. Common sense is just as important as pure intelligence, if not more so. Ideally, highly intelligent and dynamic personalities should be paired by steadier hands with the common sense to overcome business problems of all kinds.

Aggressive leader

Too Much Focus on the Negative

People who feel that they are intellectually superior to others often focus too much on the negative. They feel as if they have run up against a wall in their personal growth, and they take that frustration out on their coworkers. When a leader fails to keep a growth mindset going, they have a greater chance of falling into the trap of negative thinking. It is better to stay open-minded and believe that positive things can happen at any time, especially if you continue learning and growing.

Don’t Fear Failure

Highly intelligent people may have an excessive fear of failure because it is something they have never experienced. They may feel nervous and upset if they perceive that they have failed. They are much less likely to be able to take failure’s lessons to heart and move on with their lives. Failure is one of the world’s greatest teachers.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Leaders who believe that they have all the answers are often convinced that they can do no wrong. It is better not to take yourself so seriously and to accept that other people know more than you do. Understanding how business really works can go a long way toward ensuring success for you and for your company. Dr. Dallas Dance believes that even the “smartest” person in the room can learn from others and develop their skills.