All of Us is Smarter Than One of Us

I once worked for a senior executive who said, “If our success is dependent on my brains alone, we are in trouble.” He made it clear that he expected each of us to participate by thinking about the business as if it were our own. I learned this about him the hard way, but it is a lesson I will never forget.

One day, during our regular staff meeting, after he had just made a presentation to the team about what we would be doing over the next six months, he looked at me and asked me what I thought.

Being quick-witted and always looking for a laugh, I said, “I think what you think boss; what do you think?”

There were a few chuckles around the room as my boss sat back in his chair.

“Can I give you a tip?” he asked me.

“Sure.”, I said, sitting up a little bit straighter in my chair.

He leaned in a bit and loud enough for everyone to hear said, “If you and I think the same thing then one of us won’t be necessary, and it won’t be me!”

I thought that was a pretty good tip and it taught me a lesson that I have passed on to every person on every team that I ever led – you should always be prepared with a point of view. If you do not have a point of view on what is being discussed then decline the meeting.

My boss was right, all of us are smarter than one of us and he insisted that each of us think like business owners, not like hired hands. He knew that if he could leverage the 10 smart people in the room his chances of leading us to success went up by a factor of 10.