Great Leaders Surround Themselves With People Who Are Smarter Than They Are

Monday, February 20, 2017

smartest person quote

My high school tennis coach taught me a valuable lesson. He said, "You will never get better unless you play against someone who is at least 2 levels above you." He was a very wise coach. If you want to become a better leader, surround yourself with people who are more talented, smarter, have more experience and are more creative than you are. A good leader does not let himself be intimidated by those who can do their job better than they can, but instead are challenged and inspired by them. A wise leader also understands that leadership is not about being the best at something, but making others more successful than you are. That's the real fruit of great leadership.

That was Jesus' goal with the disciples and is his plan for us. In John 14:12 he said they would do even greater things than he did. Find someone who is doing what you are doing but at a much higher level. Develop relationship with that person, spend time allowing him or her to speak into your life, to challenge and encourage you to become better than you are now. I once heard a pastor say that he intentionally hires staff that are less educated than he is and that have less than three years of experience so he won't have to worry about them making him look bad. The sad reality is that ten years later, he is stuck in a dying church that not only hasn't grown, but has steadily declined. His way may be safer, but it is a recipe for failure.

I love a popular quote that is regularly posted on social media today that says, "If you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room." Unfortunately, many leaders believe they have to be the smartest and most talented and must have all the answers. This leadership mindset only makes your job harder because everything is dependent upon you. Your team will be forever limited by your limited knowledge and ability rather than tapping into the unlimited potential that surrounds you.

You and I have the choice to either stay at our current level or rise up to the challenge and become better than we are now. Becoming a great leader is hard work and it is far from "safe," but the reward is certainly worth it. There is no greater joy in leadership than seeing the people you lead become greater than you ever could become yourself.

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