Chapter 

36

To Be a Great Leader: Don't Be a Genius, Be a Sponge and a Stone

Originally Published
 in 
Forbes
September 14, 2011
 ∙ 
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There’s a misconception that the most successful business leaders achieve greatness because they’re insanely smart—geniuses, even. You look at people like Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, and Warren Buffett, and it seems that might just be true. After all, they are more successful than their peers, and there’s no doubt they're extremely sharp. Yes, they are smarter than you.

But the truth is different. Most highly successful leaders really aren’t the smartest people in any room. Rather, they have something that sets them apart. That something is sponge and stone. I’d argue that for any entrepreneur or leader, sponge and stone is the critical differentiator that defines his or her likelihood of success. (And I’d take success over smarts any day.)

In the business world, a sponge is someone who is tirelessly driven to seek and absorb new information...

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