Smartest Dumbest Guy in the Room Syndrome

Posted by Walt Brown on Aug 3, 2018 11:24:00 AM

“Man, I'm only using 60% of my brain at work, and it stinks!”

Above is a comment from Bob, a friend and former Integrator of an EOS client of mine. My client sold her company and Bob moved on to the same position in another company.

"I'm checking 40% of my brain at the Door." Bob says of his new company.

Bob’s new company is self-implementing EOS - i.e. tearing a proven methodology apart by cherry picking the tools from a proven system, that the owner feels “fit his organization best." A clear sign of: The Smartest, Dumbest Guy in the Room Syndrome (SDG).

This means there is a Smartest Guy in the room, who is actually the dumbest guy in the room, because of one fact: The SDG (Smartest Dumbest Guy) is not focusing on ensuring his teammates are bringing their whole brain to work. He doesn’t know why, he doesn’t even know that he doesn’t even know. Thus, he is the Smartest, Dumbest Guy in the room.
Employees checking brains at the door is a common issue that entrepreneurial companies face as they grow beyond the original, tight-knit group of 10-14 employees. Engaged Employees are only engaged when they get to use their whole brains at work. This is how you get the most creativity and best value from your people.

Gut check:

Are you holding your folks back? Really ask yourself this tough question! It’s hard stuff. Without a methodical approach to bring the best brains out of every one of your teammates, you are wasting time and money. Your time and THEIR time.

What will happen if you don't figure out how to do this? You will see your Millennials leaving you, your smart folks will leave you, and you (the SDG) will only be left with folks who have checked 40% of their brains at the door. Zombies just looking for a paycheck.


  1. If you look around and can’t see anyone who can truly help you think, you have already arrived in the deep dark well and you’re looking at your reflection in the “I'm smartest” mirror.
  2. You find yourself complaining about your teammates, or saying work is boring,
  3. You feel like you have to go to your peer group to find "smart people". 

FACT = YOU are the problem Mr. Smarty Pants. 

It is time for you to start living in your Unique Ability and, as Dan Sullivan would say, leaving your Rugged Individual behind. This step requires you to change, to make a new promise to your organization, and keep that new promise.  

In my book The Patient Organization, I outline 7 questions and promises that your people should be able to answer yes to and how your Organizational Operating System helps ensure that they can maintain yes. If they can say yes 7 times, then you can rest assured that they will be bringing their brains to work and you can relax and focus on using your brain in the right direction.

When people know they belong, they believe, and they understand and embrace: what they’re accountable for, how they’re measured, how they’re heard, how they’re developed, and how they maintain balance - two very powerful things will happen:

  1. You as the SDG will relax and escape from the syndrome.
  2. You will see your folks are bringing way more brain power than you could ever muster on your own.

Running a Patient Organization alongside EOS/Traction helps you maximize the brain talent you surround yourself with every minute, hour, day, week, month and quarter of the year. Get started now - surround yourself with folks who keep their brains in their heads when they come through your door. I promise, it’s much more fun.

Become the Smartest, Smartest Guy In the Room.

Topics: Believe, Developed, Measured

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