Seven Ways to Not-Know Like a Leader
Pretending you know, when you don’t, makes you intentionally ignorant.
Confusion is the point of opportunity, if you have the courage to not-know.
Four dangers for all knowing leaders:
Pretending you know is an act of self-sabotage.
- Lost credibility. Smoke-blowers become obvious with time. They may not say it, but the more smoke you blow, the less credible you become.
- Limited influence. Your words mean less when you pretend you know.
- Persistent ignorance. If you pretend you know, you begin to believe you know, even when you don’t.
- Missed opportunities. You’re stagnant, if you aren’t confused. Organizations and leaders get stuck because they run from confusion.
Seven ways to not-know like a leader:
- Assume you don’t know. The illusion of knowledge is the reason leaders remain ignorant. “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” Peter Drucker
- Create environments where not knowing is expected. Begin meetings by asking, “What are you learning?”
- Say, “I hadn’t thought of that. Tell me more.”
- Find clarity in private. Invite the people who really know into your office for a meeting.
- Keep notes during meetings. Writing is thinking. Record and ask questions from your notes. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin family of companies, is a notorious note taker.
- Say what you know. Ask, “What am I missing?”
- Keep a running list of things you’d like to know but don’t.
Bonus: Honor those who ask questions when they don’t know. You get what you honor.
People who “know” don’t grow.
What’s dangerous about pretending to know?
How might leaders not-know in leaderly ways?