Why you shouldn’t have all the answers as a leader.

Why you shouldn’t have all the answers as a leader.
March 14, 2022 Linda Murray

“Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more.” John C. Maxwell

There’s something about the concept of leader that suggests leaders have all the answers. After all, if they don’t have all the answers, why would we follow them? It’s a strange concept because leaders are human, and nobody could ever have all the answers.

The truth is that leaders don’t need to have all the answers. They just need to know how to find them.

The problem about having all the answers.

The truth is that leaders probably don’t have the answers all the time, even if they think they do. By taking a stab in the dark rather than saying, “I don’t know”, they could potentially make things worse. 

We’re conditioned to think of admitting ignorance as a weakness – that it will weaken team respect for you as leader, or you’ll lose control of the team as someone else shows off their knowledge.

It’s the wrong way to look at it. 

The freedom of not knowing.

You might be surprised to discover the power of saying “I don’t know.” Firstly, it’s empowering to let go of the expectation that, as a leader, you must have all the answers. Secondly, it sets a good example for the team. It shows we’re not expected to know everything and that it’s OK to admit it when we have no answer.

The best leaders see “I don’t know” as an opportunity to learn something new. They also see themselves as part of the team, not just a figurehead, and understand that the answers will lie within the team itself.

How to turn “I don’t know” into a positive.

Stop thinking about answers and start thinking about questions. Being able to ask the right questions is more powerful than knowing all the answers.

Two of the best questions you could ask are, “What do you think?” and “What ideas do you have?”

Questions can help you gather and assess information. They help your team members discover what they know and share it. Asking questions gets people to put themselves into the picture.

They give space for new ideas, creative thinking and problem-solving. They turn the problem into an opportunity to work together towards a solution – and own it. 

The best thing about not having all the answers…

When you seek the input of your team, you are fostering a culture of cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork. 

You are building a stronger and more capable team of people who are willing to take a risk by giving their opinions. Think improved creativity, increased team flexibility, improved morale, happier people, more confident contributors and much more.

Remember, your team members were chosen because they know what they are doing. They have talent, skill, and experience. It makes sense to use it. 

As a leader, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to be willing to ask questions. Do you have the leadership skills to do that?

Improve your leadership abilities and fill skill gaps through the Athena Leadership Academy Programs. Our programs are specifically designed to build emerging and existing leaders who are confident and capable in the role, whilst driving optimal performance. Topics include Courageous Conversations, Leading Hybrid Teams, Leadership and Culture, Peak Performance and more!

Are you ready to be the best leader you can be? Contact me now to make it happen.

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