We must temper the ego of brilliance by focusing on what should be done, rather than what can be done. Leaders are responsible for finding the balance. The most brilliant people are superstars in regards to figuring out what can be done about the most difficult problems and opportunities. However, if we don’t focus on what should be done, our most brilliant ideas can lead to the downfall of the organization.
Taking the most extreme examples, why have many of the most brilliant people ended up in a life of crime? It is because of how thrilling it was for them to concoct the plan, which was most likely something that no one else had ever figured out. They never gave much thought as to whether or not it should be done. Their brilliance came with an ego/belief that if they ever ran into trouble, they could just figure their way out of it. They likely led their entire life with that philosophy, but at some point there was no more “figuring it out” and that is when their world came tumbling down.
My biggest question has always been how someone so brilliant is not smart enough to embrace Leadership? Those that do go very far in life, whereas those that do not are dangerous. Brilliance can quickly become unattractive, without the right balance of can and should.
When brilliance and leadership are combined (regardless if it is one person or a team) the organization is unstoppable.
Many individuals do not consider themselves leaders. However, every position in an organization does require some level of leadership. Regardless of position, there are responsibilities, and leading in ones area of responsibility should be required. So at a minimal level, everyone should lead by doing the following in regards to the responsibilities of their position.
- Raise concerns when they need to be raised.
- Always be looking for a better way, and never be shy in communicating it.
- Continuously make improvements.
- Never pass the buck when it comes to customer service. See the issue through to a resolution, even if others have to help with specific tasks.
- Lead customers. They do business with us for our expertise. This is applicable to every customer facing role.
- Make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the customer.
Organizations that encourage every team member to embrace these leadership responsibilities are typically the organizations that take the best care of customers and their team, while experiencing a high level of efficiency and growth.
A primary role of a leader is to be a visionary and to help their team with the most strategic initiatives. However, it is a dis-service to the team if they are not encouraged/allowed to develop plans and potential solutions prior asking leadership for direction.
One of my best friends who also subscribes to these leadership posts sent me the following quote from the Alice in Wonderland Book:
“Alice came to a fork in the road.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
I rarely use quotes from other sources, but I could find no better way to get the point across. How can Leaders help someone if they have yet to think through a solution/plan for what they are presenting as an opportunity or a problem? When someone asks for direction, the first question to ask is what they think the solution is. By doing this leaders are empowering the team to think strategically, grow, and to become the future leaders of the organization. If this is not being done, it is really a one person show where the leader is the bottleneck to growth. Everyone benefits when leaders have the discipline to help at the right time and to require thinking and planning as a prerequisite.