I'll admit it--I'm not the smartest person in my company. I'm not usually the smartest person in the room, either, which is why I make an effort to learn from intelligent people and to challenge myself.
Some of the smartest leaders I've met aren't just knowledgeable in their field; they're also resourceful. These people know how to use what they have to their advantage.
Here are some of the characteristics I consistently see in resourceful leaders:
- They don't procrastinate. I recently wrote a blog post discussing how frequently companies put off positioning their key employees as thought leaders. They give all kinds of excuses for procrastinating--even if they understand it's worthwhile. But if you want to be successful, you have to execute on what you think is valuable.
- They grow and nurture a massive network. It's tough to benefit from the knowledge of a massive network unless you're good at maintaining relationships. Use tools such as Contactually or Relate IQ to keep track of your network and stay top-of-mind with important contacts. (Disclosure: Contactually is a client of ours, but we use the software.)
- They're up-to-date on the latest tools. With all the apps and programs available, there's no excuse to waste your time on manual data entry or a cluttered inbox. There are API-connecting apps like Zapier that save me time, so I don't have to manually transfer information. Using the right technology to streamline your workflow shows you value efficiency and are constantly looking for ways to improve.
- They read and educate themselves. Resourceful leaders are able to provide value to others, even when they aren't the smartest people in the room. The only way to stay ahead in your industry is to keep up with current trends and the news. I rely on following different experts who consistently contribute. When you find content that you like, make sure to follow the person--chances are, more quality content is forthcoming.
- They ask for favors. Michael Simmons wrote an excellent post about how you can build your network by asking for favors. If you're too scared to ask for help or guidance, you can't capitalize on these potentially lucrative relationships.
- They know when to be honest. Don't bullshit. If you can't deliver for someone, be honest. It's OK to say, "I don't know." The most resourceful people have a reputation for delivering, not over-promising.
- They work hard when it's necessary. As simple as it sounds, resourceful people get shit done. If there's an 8 a.m. deadline, they stay up all night until it's finished. Just when it looks impossible, they pull it off while everyone else is asleep.
- They genuinely care about others. When you make an effort to help others succeed, they often reciprocate. Take every opportunity to set people up with valuable resources, and they'll appreciate your effort enough to offer you something valuable in return.
- They worry about their goals first and ego later. Being labeled a "superconnector" by your peers won't help you make things happen. Resourceful leaders are great at identifying the assets they have and using them to accomplish their goals.
- They pay for what they don't do best. I've always been a thrifty entrepreneur. I was fixing toilets in my rental properties until last year. Then, I realized it was a better use of my time to pay someone $50 to fix the toilet and to spend those two hours reaching out to partners or leads. The opportunity cost was too high.
- They get more bang for their buck. Don't consider yourself resourceful for getting the lowest price possible. You might think it's the best deal, but keeping your eye on the price could cloud your judgment about the features you really need.
Most resourceful leaders I know didn't find success overnight. And they didn't start with Bill Gates's means, either. They simply put their egos aside and surrounded themselves with smart people they could learn from. And that gives them the most powerful resource of all: knowledge.