We’ve long argued on this blog that leadership has some very quantifiable qualities that we can measure, learn, observe, tune, and operate on. It’s not an abstract quality that’s handed out at birth or to certain generations.
Knowing all the answers, however, is not something you can quite accomplish or study for. Good, bad, natural, or developing leaders eventually have a “I don’t know” moment and it’s likely to happen daily. Let’s boil it down further: Leaders don’t have all the answers.
That said, we can take two great lessons away from this. First, you’re not alone. If you are in a leadership position it’s OK not to know the answer. So don’t panic if you don’t know the solution to a problem…instead, try asking for help. Second, and more importantly, leaders should be open with their short-comings so they can learn, grow, and succeed. Pretending to know everything can have deleterious side-effects. Acting as the know-it-all will make you responsible for both successes and failures. By asking for help, or submitting to your colleagues you don’t know the answer, you are not only a step closer to discovering the right answer, but you won’t be responsible for providing a potentially poor solution.
Woody Allen, in the clip below, might explain this best. Not knowing the answers can get you better results if your honest and up front about it.