THE GROWING IMPORTANCE of clevers in the knowledge economy poses a huge challenge for organizations. Our research suggests that leading clever people requires a very different style of leadership from that traditionally seen in many organizations. In our experience, getting the best from clevers requires many of the traditional leadership virtues, such as excellent communications skills and authenticity. But it also requires leaders to demonstrate some additional qualities.

The need for nontraditional leadership skills was emphasized again and again among the leaders and followers we talked to. “Managing clever people is a nightmare because you’re not managing them, you’re guiding them, you’re being a mentor, you’re stroking ...

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