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How to Manage a Team That’s Smarter Than You

The world of high tech is full of extremely intelligent, educated, and talented people. However, there’s a dark secret that many managers may be afraid to admit – that they are leading a team that is smarter than them.

Many in this position might fear they could lose their jobs or look weak to upper management; or worse, they might fear that they look like a fool to their staff. On the contrary, leading a smart staff to success reflects well on the organization, the team, and its leaders.

If you are a supervisor in this kind of spot, don’t be ashamed. Instead, view it as both a compliment and an opportunity.Here are six keys to successfully managing smart people:

1. Encourage Your Team to Become More Engaging

Use your coworkers’ expertise to your advantage and do not allow yourself to be unnerved by intelligence. Often, those who feel intimidated will try to overcompensate by micromanaging. That only backfires; annoying your coworkers, damaging team morale, or worse, they might lose their trust in you as a leader.

Instead, center your efforts on identifying talent and using it to the team’s advantage. Allow your team to take ownership in the tasks and projects they are involved with. Be supportive in their decisions where it makes sense, and your team will develop pride and confidence in the work they perform. This will allow you to become an effective leader as a manager and influencing engagement with your staff.

2. Look for the Best and Brightest of the Talent Pool

When it comes to hiring, you need to identify skills that may be lacking in your team and seek out the smartest applicant to fill that gap. Keep into consideration similar traits your top performers have in the applicants you are hiring. Try to hire those who work collaboratively and steer clear of the “know-it-alls”, even if they are the smartest applicants.

3. Focus on Collaboration

If you don’t know the solution to a problem, put your best minds on it by throwing it to the team. Your team is in the trenches dealing with problems every day and they will be your best bet in figuring out the best solutions. “What do you think we should do?” Asking for help earns you the respect of your coworkers and gives them ownership of the process.

4. Shine the Light on Talent

Having bright people on your staff gives you bragging rights. Frequently and freely offer genuine praise or rewards to highlight a team member’s expertise. When highlighting collaborative work, mention contributions first and foremost. Genuine recognition goes a long way, and smart people will appreciate the trust you’ve bestowed in them and will reward it with continued loyalty and hard work.

5. Enable Excellence

Ask your team members what they need to succeed and then make sure they get it. If your staff has the tools to excel in their jobs and build their expertise at the same time, it will mean better results overall. Remove any obstacles that are in their way to success and provide them with what they need to perform their duties better.

6. Recognize Talent

Make it a goal to retain the talent and reward it by allowing them to take risks. Smart people enjoy projects that test their abilities. Support and encourage them in the process, and give them credit when they succeed. Shield them if it doesn’t go well. Make their successes part of your management style.

A successful manager cultivates the talents of their workers instead of trying to match wits with them. They don’t care if others view them as less intelligent than their team. After all, if the team succeeds, everyone succeeds.

Rochelle Marapao

Rochelle Marapao is the co-Founder and Managing Director of Linear Growth Consulting, LLC (LGC) with almost two decades of experience in technology startups and helping to build them from the ground up. LGC is composed of extremely high-qualified, experienced, industry-proven, high-tech executives, and personnel with hundreds of man-years of successful results in building, maintaining, and growing successful businesses. We are your Growth and Turnaround Specialists. Find out how LGC can help your business compete in today’s markets by speaking with our key executives.