What to do when you are smarter than your manager

Often we find ourselves in situations where we have to work under people who we think are less smarter than us. These situations can add to our stress because we tend to see hierarchical success as directly related to competence. Here, I would like to throw some light on how we can navigate through such situations.

Understand that growth is a function of time

Success in any organization is greatly related to the time spent by an individual in the organization. So, if your manager has spent more time, then he/she is a more valuable asset to the organization than you, regardless of the competence that you bring to the table. For an organization, values such as greater understanding of the organization, loyalty, people skills, etc. are of great importance and they cannot be substituted just for greater competence.

Understand that management is a skill

We need to understand that management is a skill that requires great investment on the part of the individual who seeks to develop it. The way it takes dedicated effort to develop a technical skill, managerial skills also demand great efforts. We should stop valuing one skill over the other and consider that all skills are unique in their own way. Trust me, technical skills are much easier to develop and harness than almost any people skill.

Simplify your ideas

When we are smarter than our managers, we tend to get frustrated that our points are not understood. We think that our ideas are not valued, and we have to put in unnecessary explanation every time we are talking to drive home the point. We should look at such situations as an opportunity to improve our communication and people skills. Try to simplify your idea and present it in a lucid manner. May be your ideas are good, but they are embedded in technical fluff. If you make your ideas easy to understand, it will not only attract more takers, but you will also develop the art of simplifying complex communications.

Look beyond your shell

Most of the times we compare people wrongly. We compare different profiles and create judgments about competence. We might also have age bias which makes us think that young people are smarter than older peers. In an organization, everyone is essentially doing a different job (even if the profile is same) with its own set of complications (uniqueness, dependencies), so we should avoid creating judgments about competence, because they might not be actually true.

Success is not only a function of competence

You might feel that the system is not fair. But you must understand that success is a complicated phenomenon. People who are talented individual employees, might not become great leaders. At times, we might overestimate our capabilities and underestimate what others do because of our biases. We should understand that leading a team is a very difficult job then excelling in isolation. We should generally develop more respect for the leadership or managerial skill, which I believe is looked at by young generation as something that is a no-skill.

Also see, https://writesblog.in/2022/02/03/understanding-working-from-home/

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