As a leader, with a title or without a title, one clear way to raise the level of engagement of the people you are trying to influence is to NOT be the smartest person in the room. “But, what if I am the smartest person in the room?” I hear you asking. If you did ask that, I might have found one of your influence challenges. It’s okay to be the smartest person in the room, but when you start believing and acting like you are the smartest person in the room is when your level of influence can experience a setback. This is where daring to be dumb comes in to play.
Stepping Up & Stepping Back
The funny thing about always having the answers is that when you step up to answer and provide insight, others around you are by default stepping back. When people are in the habit of always stepping back the natural next step is to disengage, maybe not fully, but some.
What if I could encourage others to step up and contribute to the conversation? Would additional points of view be helpful? Would hearing how things appear from another person’s position in the organization (or your home) add value to the discussion? Almost always!
Daring to be dumb is my small way to remind myself that all of us is smarter than one of us. I may have a strong point of view; I may even be an “expert” in this area; but others may have a point of view that I need to hear.
This does three things:
- It encourages those on your team or in your organization or home to think like owners, not hired hands.
- It increases the level of engagement across the organization when people know that you value what they think and that you encourage debate.
- It increases your level of influence in the organization by valuing people and increasing their feeling of being relevant to the goals and outcomes of the organization.
You may be the smartest person in the room, and others may know that you are, but it doesn’t mean you have to always play that card. When you ask questions, even when you think you know the answer, you open the door for others to contribute and you increase your odds of a highly successful outcome.
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