Relax, You Don’t Have to Know It All

Of all the bad ideas circulating the grapevine, pretending that leaders must know everything is among the most ridiculous and harmful. Leaders earn their keep, not by knowing everything, but by knowing how to bring together the right combination of people…and propel them toward common objectives.
Crucial Conversations, Kenny Patterson et al

One of the biggest leadership traps for CEOs and other business leaders is the belief that you have to have to know it all – the operational details of every facet of your organization, the ideal strategic response in each circumstance and the perfect answer for every internal or external issue. It is a trap that is set by personal ambition, ego and the belief that you alone must put the company on your back and win the game.

Successful organizations are most often comprised of aligned teams who have learned, at varying speeds, to use all available resources to make things work on a sustainable basis.  The most competent CEOs do some or all of the following:

  • They encourage fellow employees to see “the big picture” in their daily efforts, so they can develop their leadership talents and practice decision-making skills.
  • They help their direct reports build decision-making models that are geared to the demands of strategic leadership, while considering the long-term internal/external implications of their decisions.
  • They make themselves available to their teams and offer support without taking away the necessary autonomy of making a decision and experiencing what follows from their choice.
  • When they don’t know an answer they seek a qualified expert or consultant and share that information directly with their staff before making a decision that rests on the answer, whether in whole or part.
  • They are life long learners and bring their philosophy to their work environments.  Learning is something to be enjoyed, curiosity to be nurtured.

When you relax and let others share in the learning, you inspire your people. With a company of learners you’ll have a lot of good answers when you ask the questions.