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#319: Do leaders need to know it all, and do it all?
It's easy to point out the expert in the room, but we often follow someone else
Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, The Big Short, and other best-sellers, has an interesting take on experts.
"If you want to find the person who doesn't really know what they're talking about, look for total certainty and look for people who don't admit they don't know things." - Michael Lewis
I recently wrote that trust in leadership was at an all-time high during the pandemic. Yet, at the same time, most leaders had no idea what they would do next and were transparent about it.
How often have you listened to someone that seemingly has all the answers? At first, you hear confidence and commitment to solve problems. However, after listening to them time after time, you hear nothing but hot air. This is what Mr. Lewis is speaking about in his quote. There is always that person in a meeting that has all the solutions to everyone else’s problems but isn’t aware of the issues in his department.
We look to leaders for both answers and vulnerability. But we don’t expect them always to be correct. Yet it is refreshing to find a leader that comes to you asking for your input and guidance.
As leaders, we should surround ourselves with people filling areas where we are not strong. Yes, we want people to believe as we do and agree with the company’s vision. But it’s not practical for you to be an expert in everything.
Is it a requirement for a leader to be able to do your job?
I agree that a leader should be willing to do what they ask of anyone in the organization, but that doesn’t mean they have the capability or qualifications. Unfortunately, I think this is a common misnomer inside organizations. For example, how can an engineer run the sales department, or a sales manager become COO?
The answer to those questions is that any great leader can lead any organization. You’ve heard this quote from me dozens of times;
Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less - John C. Maxwell.
We can lead if we build and increase our influence within the organization. Leadership is getting people to do what you want through respect. We can point a gun to their head and ask them to work overtime. Or tell them to do their job because we are their boss. But when people follow you out of respect, that is the highest level of influence you can achieve.
We don’t need to know it all, do it all or have been there and done that to lead. We need respect, add value, and develop our team. We must paint a vision of where we want to go and why we want to get there.
Don’t be scared to ask your team for advice.
Many of my clients look outward for advice instead of going to the real experts. Those are the people doing the job and executing the tasks. They often find efficiencies leaders didn’t know existed but were too scared to ask.
Why don’t leaders ask? It’s simple; they don’t want to look inadequate or less than.
This isn’t a good pitch for new business, but before you contact the Kole Performance Group, ask your team for the same advice. It will create a bridge of trust when you do and even a bigger one when you implement their solutions. If you genuinely want to build influence with your team, build that bridge. It takes a lot of brick and mortar to make one strong enough to manage crisis and change. But the hard work today will improve your tomorrow.
If you want advice on how to ask for advice, schedule a free 30-minute call.
For those of you that are drawn to the person that has all the answers, be cautious. Those that are unwilling to learn from others might sound confident. But there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness.