Throughout the progression of one’s career, every executive will eventually run into the same situation: every talented manager will someday lead employees with more technical skill and know-how than himself. In these set-ups, plenty of talented managers are pushed to their limits – frustration ensues. With situations like this, it’s important to take on a new perspective: the more talented your team members are, the better your team’s results will be, and the better you’ll look for it! Learn how to manage talent efficiently, to optimize your team’s strengths and lead your company to success.
Tip 1: Update Your Management Style
As the manager of a highly skilled team, where the employees might even be more knowledgeable than you, you should be delighted to have each valuable member on your side. These colleagues are offering their talent to your team, to help your company succeed in achieving a common goal – and the success of your team is a direct reflection of your management skills.
So why do some team leaders struggle with acknowledging that certain team members are more skilled? It’s simple: those who are successful enough to reach a high-level management position have already proven themselves as experts and beat out the competition. But with this mindset, many senior managers believe that this distinction will remain the status quo for the duration of their career. Senior executives don’t necessarily need to know everything about everything – just one thing, and that’s management. As a supervisor, the working atmosphere is very different – you’re now responsible for the success or failure of the entire group. Naturally, it’s to your advantage when you’re informed about your industry, but it’s more important to have a firm grasp on the responsibilities and tasks that your team must achieve. Effective managers must make decisions that help guide their team to succeed.
Consider the careers of most prominent politicians: plenty switch departments and specialities over the course of their time in office. This means that they’re rarely experts in every new department. To become experts, they’re aided by a talented and diverse team, which advises them to lead more effectively. A Secretary of State, for example, is responsible for decision-making, not encyclopedic knowledge of every conflict in every corner of the world. So take a hint from these great leaders, and concentrate on your leadership tasks, and be grateful that you have a team of highly qualified employees to help you achieve the best possible results.
Tip 2: Gain Your Team’s Trust
Executives that want to lead specialized experts must treat them as such: highly talented experts. It’s very important to set clear goals for each of your employees, and make sure to monitor the results. However, you should also respect them enough to trust them with the freedom to develop specialized strategies, individual methods for how they can reach their goals. Micromanaging your employees is a surefire way to demoralize them, and curb their motivation. Do your best to give your team members all of the resources that they require to do their best work. Give your employees enough insight into the overall corporate strategy, so that they feel informed, and don’t forget to regularly remind them of the strategic goals for your organization. If an employee seems to be veering wildly off-course, respectfully guide them back to the common goal. Don’t forget: you have the last word.
Tip 3: Lead Your Team Onward
You’ve acquired the best of the best, and helped to develop an unbeatable team! But with great power comes great responsibility, and it’s up to you to lead your team on to greatness. Set your expectations sky-high and strive towards improvement. When you’ve already implemented Tips 1 and 2, you should have enough trust to approach this challenge. Your task as an executive is to create the circumstances in which the best possible work can be achieved. (And it should go without saying, but never forget that if you don’t understand something, you have every right to ask! As we said, you don’t need to be the “best” in everything – only the best manager.)
Leading intelligent people also means you need to encourage their creativity. Consider setting up regular innovation meetings to help your staff push the boundaries for what they can and will achieve, open meetings where everyone can share their perspectives and get inspiration. For example, you could set up a regular weekly innovation session to give your staff the opportunity to coordinate and bounce ideas off one another.
Keep a Common Goal in Sight
When leading a team of experts, it’s important for all team members to put their egos aside and focus on the goal of your company: success. And nothing is more important to the success of your team than great management. John F. Kennedy said it best: “An intelligent man is one who knows how to be smart enough to hire people smarter than him.”