Bohan and Bradstreet

Wiser Than the Boss

2/14/2013 by Ed Bradstreet

Regardless of size, companies that continue to achieve tactical and strategic goals employ “A” quality talent. These exceptional employees should be in leadership or development roles that yield an impressive ROI to their employer. Typically, most “A” players are exceedingly ambitious, extremely capable, quite creative, and highly intelligent. The challenge for selecting, managing, nurturing, and retaining is as much an art form as a skill.

Most “A” talent are overachievers who have won prizes for their educational accomplishments and are competitive due to the upbringing to secure success. They are often polished, possess a nurtured IQ, are highly competitive, and often a bit insecure around people viewed as equal or more intelligent. Recruiting “A” quality is one challenge, but maximizing the management of “A” talent is critical. Most “A” players are better at strategy than tactical and therefore may lack appreciation of the real world and undervalue the challenge of accomplishing tasks that support stated strategies. Managing people who are more talented and clever than their superior takes smarts. Sound ridiculous? Not really. Clever people do not like to be led. Attracting intelligent and creative talent is difficult enough; effectively managing and mentoring them takes planning and talent.

Here are some facts and suggestions on managing talent that is wiser than the boss:

  • Intelligent and creative people want recognition that their ideas are important and valued. They like and utilize technology. Thinking of better ways to do things and coming up with new ideas is the norm.
  • They know their worth and are very aware of compensation that is attached to their role. They are not traditionally stimulated by fancy titles, but rather by status.
  • Most are politically savvy and have an indifference to bureaucracy.
  • “A” talent is well-connected with a “knowledge” network that can increase their value to the corporation. This is the same network that will constantly introduce new opportunities that will tease their interests.
  • They are restless and easily bored. Clever people need a peer group of talented and intelligent teammates to stimulate them to be their best.
  • “A” players want instant access to their boss or above; otherwise, they feel that their work and contributions are not taken seriously.
  • These highly intelligent contributors rarely say “thank you” to their leaders because they don't want to be led. They prefer that you stay away from their playing field and let them coach.

Managing “A” quality talent isn't easy; however, the alternative could be a company void of strategy and losing value in a competitive economy.