It's Smart to Be Good

I know this sounds crazy, but I think book-smarts are overrated.

I remember in a prior job, this really smart, whiz kid manager was passed up for a promotion in favor of a guy who didn't have nearly his academic credentials or background for that matter.

The difference was the so-called less qualified guy was liked.

And here's the kicker: The likable guy didn't do that bad a job. The smart guy, who was arrogant as hell, scowled at people, ignored people in the elevator, rarely looked you in the eye, well, he moved on. To this day, I don't know where he is.

Lesson learned: Being successful oftentimes means being liked. Or at least liked more than the other guy.

Take the Iowa caucuses. I really think Howard Dean (search) stumbled because increasingly, people weren't liking him.

He snarled at that older guy in Iowa and told him to sit down. He snapped at reporters. He yelled and screamed a lot.

Personally, I have no problem with tempers. But even I like to see smiles.

I remember reading a survey once about how CEOs seek out their successors. Most of the time, they opt for the guy who they get along with, rarely the guy they do not.

It's human nature. We want to like the guy we vote for, maybe even work for, and toil for.

I still think to this day that the reason why President Bush won the debates with Al Gore wasn't because he was more substantive on the issues -- often he wasn't -- but he was more comfortable in his shoes. Between Gore's sighing in one debate, then a near comatose performance in another, I kept wondering, will the real Al Gore please stand up!

Ultimately this election will be decided on big issues, but also on little issues. Who do you trust? Who do you like? Who would you feel comfortable having a beer with?

It makes sense. How can you move a department, or a company, or a nation, if the people you want to move aren't moved by you?

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong being the smartest kid in the class. I just think it's more important to "show" some class.

It's good to be smart. It's smarter yet, to be good.

Leave it to me to say all the degrees in the world might show you have a big head, but they don't say anything about what's more important: having a big heart.

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