May 17, 2022

How to Lead Employees Who Know More Than You Do

By: sanjay sathe

Being in an executive position and managing a team can be challenging. Even more so when you’re leading team members who are more knowledgeable and experienced. Luckily, there are key strategies to help manage these relationships effectively and productively. Take advantage of these tips that provide insight on how to lead employees who have more experience than you do.

How to Lead Employees Who Know More Than You Do

Starting a new executive position can be equally exciting and daunting. Whether you’re starting at a new company or being promoted at your current company it can be an experience filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s thrilling to start this new journey. On the other hand, you may be anxious about fitting into a new workplace or position. Your team will represent a mix of people with unique skill sets and capabilities that are working together towards a common goal, and it’s your job to lead them there. What happens when a few employees within your team have more expertise or knowledge than you? It can feel intimidating to lead people with advanced expertise, especially if you have just joined the company. 

Don’t worry. There are ways to effectively lead more knowledgeable and experienced people in order to create a winning and productive team.

Keep an open and empathetic mind, instead of feeling intimidated by more knowledgeable or experienced employees. Trust your leadership skills. These team members are resources and their knowledge can become the most valuable asset for the company– depending on how well you lead them. Let’s examine the best ways to effectively lead a team when some of your employees are more knowledgeable than you:

  • Be confident in your leadership ability: Always remember that you are in a leadership position because of your unique skill set and established EQ. You are there to facilitate your team’s productivity and to help overcome any hurdles. If you have a more knowledgeable and experienced person on your team, rely on their expertise and give them due respect, but lead confidently. At the end of the day, you are accountable for leading your team to growth and success.
  • Leave your ego at the door: When working with employees more knowledgeable than you, accept their functional expertise while still embracing your strengths– your leadership capability. There is no harm in accepting that their depth of functional knowledge is more than yours and utilizing that for the company’s benefit. There is no place for petty competition when you have set out to achieve big things. You, as the leader, are responsible for paving the path to success, rising above your ego.
  • Be open to learning opportunities: In most cases, mentorship flows from the executive to employees. But, who said knowledge can’t be a two-way street? Employees who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you can also be a great resource. If you keep an open mind, you could learn new skills or strategies from your team. Leading people with stronger skills should be a benefit, and as a good leader, you should strive to keep people in the company who excel in their area. However, growth can only happen if you take advantage of the opportunities to enhance your knowledge. Let the employee take the lead in a particular task that requires their knowledge and experience.
  • Recognize your employees: We all need to receive kudos now and again. Give recognition due to employees with greater knowledge and experience than you. When you acknowledge their skills publicly, with context and specificity, it goes a long way towards building a trusting relationship and encourages other team members to seek further knowledge and hone their skill set. That way, others in the team will also feel confident working with them and seeking advice if and when required.
  • Seek and accept honest feedback – When you implement an innovative idea as a team, ask experienced employees for their honest feedback. Genuinely listen to what is working and what could be improved based on their expertise. Involve them in discussions or conversations that would impact the team and its performance. When you ask for their feedback or input, it makes them feel valued and respected. After all, you are all on the same team working towards the same goal.

Leading employees that know more than you doesn’t have to be complicated. These employees might just become your most valuable asset, allowing you to create a knowledge-sharing culture within the company, thereby boosting efficiency and encouraging company-wide innovation. Utilize these employees and their expertise, and create a collaborative workplace that enhances productivity.

For more tips on effective leadership, check out these resources: