Have you ever met the smartest person in the room?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Captain John Meier, the commanding officer of the Commanding Officer of the USS Gerald R. Ford.  He asked this question as he talked about steps he was taking to build the team that will launch this new aircraft carrier in 2016.  The one thing I will say about Captain Meier is that he spoke simply about leadership, and showed a deep understanding of the power of serving others first as a leader.  Another great thing is he was not selling a book, he was just taking time out of his busy day to tell his story.

How many of you walk into a room chanting “I am not the smartest person in this room . . . “?  I would never ask a leader to do that, and yet there are ways our actions can say it.

Captain Meier shared a couple of tips he had for living this mantra through your actions as a leader:

  • Always keep an open mind in problem solving sessions – challenge your team to bring/share solutions and just listen.
  • Make Learning a part of your day.

Imagine the power of spending time each day having someone on your team teach you something?  You implement Salesforce?  Ask someone to show you how to enter a new customer and then do 2 on your own with their help.  When we make a habit out of the two tips shared above we are demonstrating our intent to serve first as a leader.  It is never that easy, but it is always that simple.

Great conversations start with a question.  I spend time with leaders like Captain Meier because they ask great questions.

If you have never met the smartest person in the room you are not looking hard enough.

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