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14 Feb 2020

Alawfultruth: Book smart — and not much else

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February 14, 2020 Category: Commentary Posted by:

In recent years, there has been a steady increase of men and women gaining traction in life, through a series of hard earned college degrees.

Many have gone all the way to the top by becoming PhD candidates, which is no small feat by any stretch of the imagination.

The collection of these degrees has led to opened doors, where they now get to sit amongst the top ranking people in their organizations of choice.

They have arrived at last.

One tiny wrinkle — those degrees cannot replace emotional intelligence, common sense, and learning how to work collaboratively with others for the best outcomes. 

Some are not able to express their thoughts intelligently in a written or verbal form, and I am left befuddled after seeing this scenario play out one too many times to the detriment of those that they are leading.

So, I am left with the  question — what are we missing here? Is it that some believe that having the PhD absolves them from any high level or quality work because their degrees speak for themselves?

Is it that they are book smart,  but lack the crucial and necessary skills to communicate effectively and lead a team of people?

Is it arrogance, pride, or a combination of the two?

When we are given positions as leaders, no one expects you to know the answers to everything. What is expected is that you take inventory, and surround yourself with a team of qualified individuals that  are strong enough to cover your weakest areas and then motivating them to working at their highest potential.

Leadership is not turning a deaf ear to the concerns of your team and it is detrimental to pick “favorites” in a divisive way that can lead to nothing good. Team members will begin sabotaging each other to get ahead.

A good leader checks the temperature of their organization regularly, finds ways to keep employee morale at a premium, and adjusts the sails by proactively nipping potential issues in the bud.

A good leader does not encourage gossip by having an open door policy that allows concerns to be addressed as quickly as possible.

A good leader admits their mistakes and apologizes to their team takes public responsibility, should anything go awry, and handles concerns in-house. No one wants to work with anyone who is not supportive of their team and points fingers publicly instead of working in an ethical way to handle potential issues.

A good leader never publicly speaks of how wonderful they are personally, but rather gives credit to their team at all times.

A good leader takes in feedback without making it personal. When a leader is easily offended and continuously ignores feedback, it gets in the way of moving the team forward and creates an environment of distrust.

A good leader, for example, shows appreciation through a raise in salary, a promotion, allowing team members to work from home when needed, and giving positive feedback where people have gone above and beyond what their job description requires. Noticed effort only leads to more of the same.

Mediocrity in leadership causes an imbalance that is hard to recover from the longer it lasts. 

So, if you are currently leading a group or team of people, take inventory of what is working and what could be done differently. Hold yourself accountable, and get a business coach if that fails, because a high turnover in any organization often points to leadership somewhere that is toxic to progress.

Can we begin to right some of these wrongs? It truly starts by looking within. A good leader can discourage gossip by having an open door policy that allows concerns to be addressed as quickly as possible.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.

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