Leading People Too Smart to Be Led
The problem with leading some people is that they can be too smart to be led. An evolutionary geneticist, a professional gambler, and a business school professor blew away the bureaucracy at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in New Mexico. An institute founded in 1984 by scientists, including four Nobel laureates, SFI is one of the world’s leading research institutions. But, it’s unlike any university. Born partly out of frustration with traditional university bureaucracies, SFI has no departments, no formal hierarchies, and no tenure. It did it with these leadership tenets: –
⇒ See yourself as “a colonel with an army of generals.” Humility is an essential prerequisite for a leader who’s in the middle of a maelstrom of talent.
⇒ Don’t valorise failure. Failure is not a wonderful thing. Instead of celebrating failure, we need to reframe the challenge.
⇒ Encourage smart recklessness. Everyone has a crazy idea from time to time. We should share them more often than we do.
⇒ The organization should be a crucible, not a crib. Encouraging rigorous, constructive debate is indispensable to navigating challenges of high uncertainty.
⇒ Search for “stupid” practices as much as you seek best practices. Why don’t we proactively search out stupidity? Stupidity is at the heart of why and how things go wrong so overcoming it is a key role for leadership in any organisation.
⇒ Persist. Is good advice for leaders. When nothing is going right, and even Management basics seem to be failing, focus on persistence. If the vision and purpose are sound, you’ll eventually succeed.