Are you the Smartest Guy in the Office?

Smart GuyThink it pays to be the smartest person in the office?  Think again, says Author Joan Lloyd discusses the dismay/confusion a consistent over-achiever felt when passed up for a team leadership role.  The reason this “smartest guy in the room”  wasn’t the obvious choice?  He was too arrogant, not collaborative, and quick to dismiss others’ ideas.  All his  life he was praised for his intelligence.  Things came easy to him, and perhaps a bit too easy.  He never learned the social art of interpersonal skills, teamwork, and motivation, all which are key attributes in  any effective leader.

As I read this article I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a hiring manager in which he relayed his interviewing experiences with college grads.  He noticed that many were quick to show confidence, had answers for every problem, but lacked any true personality.  When it came time to discuss teamwork examples, many candidates fell short or used words like “I” and “me” when discussing team successes.  A definite red flag to any hiring manager or recruiter is when a candidate doesn’t share the victory with others.  Make sure when interviewing you come across as a genuine leader by:

  • Speaking highly of past colleagues, companies, and schools
  • Answer teamwork examples with a “we/us” mentality
  • Be authentic.  Don’t remain stiff.  Interviewers want to see the true you.
  • Relay stories that demonstrate a history of seeking guidance from others, problem solving, and learning from your mistakes.
  • Listen to your interviewer.  Really listen.  Show that you want to hear what they have to say, that you understand direction.  Make sure you are answering the questions they are asking, not just the ones you want to answer.

As Lloyd frankly states, “the smartest guy in the room is the one who makes others feel they are smart too.”  Or as any career counselor will tell you, likability is a key factor when it comes to landing a job, promotion, or team lead role.  People want to work for and with people who earn respect AND show respect.