Smugly, Stagnantly, Stupidly Smart Leadership

Smart people
are difficult to guide
because they think
they know all the answers.

When they know
that they do not know,
people can find their own way.

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 65


Leaders must guard against allowing their expertise making them conceited. Becoming arrogant and believing that one knows it all closes the mind. A changing world is the only constant in life. This reality does not wait for the clever and sophisticated to catch-up to new ideas.

Dwelling in their intelligence, leaders believe knowledge is enough to make them successful. This is a mistake. They neglect to put their theories into practice. Static knowledge is useless. They must reconnect with the real world. Acknowledging that real expertise is only proven through performance, they must test themselves.

Intellectual leaders strive for perfection and often fear making a mistake. Their ideas remain flawless if they are never tested. This fear of failure creates a stagnant management culture that restricts freedom. If one is not given the opportunity to go wrong, they will loss the chance to grow and learn from their error.

Prideful leaders often hope their intellect will gain them peer approval and esteem. They often suffer the opposite reaction. Their arrogance creates aversion and distrust. The leader must be receptive to other ideas and possibilities. This will foster a respectful, open, and progressive environment.

“Thinking” leaders must be careful. Their attitude, inaction, fear, and arrogance can create chaos. They must adapt a modest, flexible, spirited, and humble style of governance. This will encourage a harmonious, progressive, and SMART organization.