If you have a team member who is better qualified in terms of education and more experienced than you, chances are that he/she won’t be thrilled that you have been given the opportunity to lead him/her. From his/her perspective, they were more deserving but obviously your leadership thought otherwise.
These situations can get tricky and sometimes dirty and need to be handled well.
Here are the 5 steps that you can use to effectively lead such individuals:
1.Don’t indulge in “I know more” fight:
As a natural reaction , the leader sometimes get into the zone of finger pointing and battle to outclass the other person and show the world that they know more than this individual. I recommend not getting there, I would rather accept the fact that the team member’s knowledge is far superior to mine and ensure that I let him know that…yes… Go ahead and tell this particular team member– “I don’t think I can compete with you on knowledge, you are far ahead.”
Let him know that it is his responsibility to point out if there are any knowledge related concerns or training requirements that he/she thinks we need to build as a dept or an organization and ask him/her to watch your back. It is absolutely ok to show vulnerability as a leader – your team members will have more respect for you.
2.Spend energy on developing the person rather than micro managing
As a leader, spend time on coaching the individual to the next level. Let the person know the things that might be pulling him/her back from the next promotion and you will work with him/her so that together you overcome this. Share what has helped you grow and may be he/she could pick few things from your experience. Also, share some of your responsibilities with him/her to check how he/she responds to these situations and it will give you the opportunity to further develop them.
Don’t micro-manage and watch every step of this person. Leave him/her alone as long as they are aligned towards your department’s goals and not pulling you back.
3.Exploit the strengths
As leaders, we do fall in this trap of judging the person and pointing only the weaknesses, we create a barrier in our heads about the other person, the result being you will only see negatives. Suggest you focus on the individual’s strengths and exploit them. For e.g. , if you as a leader realize that this individual’s product /process knowledge is very good and he/she is a subject matter expert , involve him/her in tasks/projects where these strengths are required. Making use of strengths is a win-win game, always, in any situation.
4.If nothing works, stay calm, empathize and go back to step 1.
You as a leader sometimes have to step out of your zone and look at the situation from the individual’s perspective. It is a tough situation for anyone to be in and sometimes the reactions are not thought through and hence, they might come across as trouble makers. Before you conclude that – go back to step 1.
Have you faced such a scenario ? Share what has worked for you in the comments below.