Few if any leaders want to admit this. Many should. Not knowing is not the worst leadership sin. In actuality, it can be a helpful admission.
Leaders are charged with finding the right answers with those they lead, not being the repository of all the right answers. To attempt that is a kind or arrogance that assumes the leader’s answers are always the best.
When is it bad not to know? Not taking the effort to be well-informed about your company, your team and the current situation is an abdication of leadership. Not knowing the answers that are easily knowable is indeed a poor reflection on the leader.
1. No leader is supposed to know it all.
Admitting you don’t always have the answer only confirms what your team already knows. Nobody always knows all the time.
2. The best leaders ask the best questions.
If you don’t have the answer, ask a better question. Reframing a question from “What should we do?” to “Why is this happening?” can make a big difference.
3. Effective leaders engage others to find answers.
Getting your team involved in getting answers and generating solutions is key to engaging them and communicating respect.
4. Pretending to know is worse than not knowing.
Chances are you’ll be found out. An honest admission beats posturing every time.
5. Not knowing is a road sign to learning.
If there is something important you don’t know or don’t know enough about, this is a good area to put on your study agenda.