Risk & Business Magazine Cooke Insurance Magazine Summer 2018 | Page 18

BAD HABITS OF SMART LEADERS > star general from the US Army. We were surrounded by other two- to four-star generals. Each of these men and women had graduate degrees and were chosen to be two- to four-star generals over thousands of competitors. He asked me an interesting question: “Marshall, who is your favorite customer?” I replied: “Sir, my favorite customer is smart, dedicated, driven to achieve, has incredible integrity, gets results – and is a stubborn, opinionated know-it-all who never wants to admit he or she is wrong.” I looked around the room and asked: “Do you think any of the generals in this very room may fit such a description?” He laughed and replied: “We have a target-rich opportunity!” IT IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT FOR SUPER-SMART PEOPLE TO HEAR SOMETHING WITH WHICH THEY DISAGREE, WITHOUT PROVING THAT THE OTHER PERSON IS WRONG. After all, if others disagree with us, we assume, because we are so smart, they must be wrong. They may not be stupid people, they are just confused on this particular issue. The higher up we move in leadership, the more destructive this habit may become. One of the ‘super-smart’ scientists I worked with, Dr. Jones, led the research and development function for a large corporation. He was so smart, he knew more about the other scientists’ fields than they did