Great Leaders Don't Need To Be The Smartest Person In The Room

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Lynn Good Duke Energy

Courtesy of Duke Energy

Leadership ability is not the same as expertise.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy, describes what she sees as the difference between a great leader and a smart individual. The question was one she focused on when charged with merging the staffs of two companies — Progress Energy and Duke Energy — early in her tenure as chief executive.

"At a certain career level, it's no longer about whether you are the smartest subject-matter expert in the room," Good explains. "As you think about developing people through their careers, you're looking for that transition from being the smartest person in the room — and caring so much about that — to being the most effective."

When it comes to management, Good measures effectiveness in terms of how well someone can develop a team and come up with creative solutions to tough problems. "Effectiveness comes from those qualitative things that give you the ability to network, communicate, and lead people toward an outcome they can't see," she says.

Good  constantly looks for passionate people. When she hires, she asks candidates why they come to work in the morning. "People who love what they do get after it every day," she says.

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