Stop Trying to Be the Smartest Person in the Room

by | Aug 30, 2019 | Attitude, Collaboration, Development, Fear, Influence, Leadership, Relationships, Self-awareness, Team

In any group of people, only one (or maybe two) of them can be the smartest, right?

So the next time you find yourself in a room of people and are tempted to try to make a good impression with your experience or mental horsepower, or to establish yourself as a “player,” you would do well to face the simple reality that there can be only one smartest person in any given room.

You would do well to face the simple reality that there can be only one smartest person in any given room.

And Your Point Is…?

You either are the smartest person in the room, or you’re not.

So What?

It’s natural to want make the best possible impression on others, especially if it’s a group of people we don’t know. It’s tempting to want to make our mark and try to establish our credibility or influence.

But this effort to capture the SPITR title can be counter-productive—and maybe even detrimental—to establishing influence with the group.

First, it’s very likely that everyone has already figured out who the smartest person in the room is. And if they haven’t, it won’t take long for them to confirm it. Trying to prove it just makes you look desperate, or egotistical.

Secondly, your efforts will likely backfire on you. If you’re not that smartest person and try to act like you are, then everyone else will see what you’re trying to do—and you don’t want to get branded with that. If you are the smartest person in the room and try to act like you are, then you run the risk of looking like a prideful, controlling jerk.

Either way, you lose credibility and trust, which is a step backward in your efforts to achieve influence with those in the room. Remember: the goal is not to be perceived as the smartest, it’s to maximize your collaboration with the team, and leverage what you and everyone collectively brings to the table to in order to get the best possible outcomes.

Remember: The goal is … to maximize your collaboration with the team, and leverage what you and everyone collectively brings to the table to in order to get the best possible outcomes.

The Big Picture

IQ is certainly an asset, but leadership is much more than intelligence. Many times the smartest person’s opinion isn’t the best way forward. So stop trying to appear as if you’re the smartest in the room—as if that gives you some sort of award—and just lead. Because in the end leadership is less about your capabilities and more about the team’s.

Your Next Step

How can you accurately assess your attempts to leave an impression?

Stop trying to appear as if you’re the smartest in the room—as if that gives you some sort of award—and just lead.

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