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Lead Your Team Leadership

Leadership Lessons: Don't Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Leadership Lessons: Don't Be the Smartest Person in the Room

There's no one "right" way to lead a business. Today's leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Josh McCarter, CEO of Booker
  • Time in current position: 6 years
  • Josh's philosophy: "Don't be the smartest guy in the room! Recognize your blind spots and surround yourself with people whose skills complement your own."

A lot goes into successful leadership, but I feel one of the most important qualities is the ability to remain humble and recognize one's own strengths and weaknesses. An effective leader builds a team of people whose skills complement their own and focuses less on being the smartest person in the room. If you're the most knowledgeable person at the table on every subject, you don't have the right people at the table. By staffing your team with experts who complement your skill profile, you will benefit yourself, the team, and the company overall.

Past generations have been too focused on being the first, the best and the smartest. But no one can have all the answers to all the questions and issues that arise in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. The key to success lies in being able to process everything coming at you, while recognizing your own blind spots, and seeking out the skills of others to help in thoughtful decision making. A good CEO builds a team capable of growing and learning together.

I learned early in my career that humility and keeping an open mind is what sets successful leaders apart. I've seen strong companies of all size fail at the hands of a CEO unwilling to accept others' skills and ideas. I continue to embrace this mentality at Booker by recruiting high quality, experienced executives, encouraging thoughtful debate and pushing decision-making down into the organization.

Edited for length and clarity by Nicole Taylor.