Is “Surrounding Yourself with Smart People” Enough?

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you!”

It’s listed in every leadership expert’s “Top Five Traits” (or “Six Characteristics,” or “7 Habits,” or whatever)!  “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”

And while I believe that successful people do indeed surround themselves with brilliant people, I think there are two other elements that must be included here:

  1. The leader must be comfortable enough to ask questions, no matter how trivial.
  2. The people surrounding the leader must be willing to take the time to share their knowledge with him or her.

I realized very early in my new role as an administrator at Timberview that I was surrounded by exceptionally brilliant people!  These people, many of whom opened the school together three years ago, know their stuff!  They are masters at what they do, and they know the system very well.To be honest, being surrounded by people smarter than you can be quite intimidating!

I realized something very important early on: When you are the new guy in an established system, you absolutely must ask questions…lots of them…even if they seem trivial.  Otherwise people assume you know everything that they know.

The second part of this idea is even more important than asking the questions.  The people surrounding you must be willing to share their knowledge.This is where Timberview shines!  Not only do the office staff, counselors, administrators and others willingly answer my questions, they do it in a way that is caring and considerate.  Let’s face it, they are extremely busy with their own issues!  And yet they take time to stop what they are doing to give full attention to my questions.  They make sure I understand by asking clarifying questions and they follow up later to make sure I’ve gotten the information I need.

When I become a famous leadership expert, I’ll put together a list of “Top Ten Traits.”  Number one on the list
will be,” Surround yourself with smart people; who are kind and compassionate, and willing to share their knowledge with you, like the staff at Timberview Middle School!”


3 thoughts on “Is “Surrounding Yourself with Smart People” Enough?

  1. Another great post, David! Based on the photos, I’d have to say not only are you surrounded by smart people, but you are surrounded by beautiful women! I can get away with saying that because I’m a girl. Ha!
    My only argument is with your statement that you are surrounded by people smartER than you are. You’re every bit as smart as the rest of us, and we’re lucky to have you in the TImberview Family!

  2. I was stating the exact same stuff in my application for LDA! Leaders need to be the first to ask questions, I think! Thanks, David! And, I agree with Carrie!

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