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Richard Branson has been singled out as one of many business leaders who suggest hiring people who are smarter than you and then getting out of their way.

Though I am sure we can all agree with the sentiment it is not always the easiest thing to do.

On a positive note, this situation heralds a step typically up in your career. As Roger Schwarz, the Adjunct Professor of Organisational Psychology at the University of Michigan commented, this situation is the sign of a shift in your carer. Logically the higher up you go in an organisation, the more you will be expected to make decisions in areas where you might not have direct expertise or experience.

At some point, it has happened to all of us. As a young grad joining the aerospace industry with a major player, I experienced this exact situation on more than one occasion.

So as a leader surrounded by superstars what can make the transition as smooth as possible?

 

Seek First To Understand

A classic book for the eighties is as relevant today as it was then. Stephen Covey penned the New York Times bestseller The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Habit 5 centred around the idea of seeking first to understand in any situation that presents itself to us.

As human beings we all want to be valued, listened to and most of all heard. To be appreciated and recognised for our expertise.

For many of our employees, especially in our increasingly digital and technical world, we do not need to know more than they do.

However what we need to demonstrate is that we understand what they want, have skill in managing expectations and negotiations; both up and down our organisational structure and most of all respect the value our employees add to our organisation.

 

Go Back To School

Our changing business landscape means that to grow and thrive in our environment, all of us must focus on growth. I am a great believer that every day is a school day, and I can learn from everyone I come across.

There is no point shying away from the fact that the team you are now managing know more about the technical aspects of their role than you do. Be upfront and learn from them. Learning is a two-way street. Though you do not need to be a super geek, you will, however, want to have the capability to take a helicopter view, chunck up and find out where the issues are in the unit or team you are responsible for.

In a global training and development company here at Excel Communications, we are well versed in developing leaders in multiple sectors to be powerful communicators. The first stage in communication aligns with Mr. Covey, and that is to seek to understand by asking questions; skilfully and then crucially listen to the answers.

All too often managers struggle with superstars in their team because they have not focused on this one simple strategy.

 

Be Confident and Competent

Having listened and learned, there is an expectation that you will step up.

Seth Godin, the well-known author, comments that the majority of human beings want to be led. Surprisingly your superstars might not want your job at all but instead, have you as their supportive leader. However, to deliver on that request, they will expect you to be both confident and competent. This is not about technical competence. However, it is about confidence and competence as a leader of women and men.

The good news is that both traits can be cultivated and at speed.

 

Best regards

Tom Hallett

 

About Excel Communications

Excel Communications has a 30-year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients through the training and development of their business and people.

We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across four continents in multiple languages. Isn’t it time you got in touch? Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.