Manage people that are smarter than you
Managing people that are less experienced is not easy to get right, but at least you feel you have authority because you are an expert on the matter.
Managing people who are way smarter or more experienced than you is quite a different story. I gathered some ideas on this topic:
- Acknowledge. This is the first step: realize that your team knows more than you do. Don’t try to fake that, they will bust you within the first minute.
- Get informed. To lead, you don’t need to be an expert, but you need to know enough about the details to know where the problems lie. That means a lot of reading and listening.
- Reach out and learn. One way to get informed is to find someone who is in a similar role and get as much information as you can that can help you to become a better leader. The best way to approach this is to have a set of really specific questions ready to go.
- Add value. Probably the most important point: let them do their work, but as a manager and leader, you are there to support them. Adding value is the best way to gain trust and credibility. Lots of value can be added on organizational level (focus, strategy, fixing roadblocks, stakeholders), and on personal level (perspective, challenges, development)
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