Manbir Kaur – Helping Leaders, Teams & Organizations

There are a lot of times when leaders think –

·         Either they know it all

·         Or they should know it all

A Know-It-All leader is someone who rarely listens to opinion of others and offers information or advice whether it is asked for or not. A know-it-all leader has a smug, superior attitude that implies others are stupid, weak and inferior. He/she speaks with a tone of authority, even when addressing issues outside their expertise.

A leader, who is “I have all the answers” kind of a person is sending a powerful message to his or her team that:

– He/she is smarter than all of team members;

– He/she need not waste his/her precious time seeking out team members’ ideas;

– All he/she really needs from the team is to put their heads down and do as they are told.

Team members find that working for a know-it-all leader is very strenuous. They believe it is an impediment to their growth in the organization.  They perceive a sense of alienation and disengagement. They also think that their fundamental need to feel valued as well as their contributions towards the growth of the organization are being ignored.

The “authoritative leadership style”, where the leader is just required to tell employees “what to do” and “how to do it” is a thing of the past. One of the biggest mistakes that a leader can commit is to come across as a person who has all the answers.

Peter Drucker once said “While the leader of the past knew how to tell, the leader of the future will know how to ask.” This is an excellent viewpoint for today’s leaders.

Members of a team, today, are not looking to their leaders to have all the answers. What they are looking for is a leader who is genuine and candid, who values the members of his or her team, respects their ideas and expertise, and who is willing to listen to suggestions before deciding on a new direction or course of action.

Team members will not buy into a vision that is been imposed on them. They will not go the extra mile attempting to implement a plan that does not incorporate their own knowledge, experience and expertise and for which they do not feel any sense of personal ownership.

It is very important for a leader to accept that he/she does not know some aspects and he/she is ready to learn from the team and other sources.That also showcases a learning culture in the team. A leader needs to help create an atmosphere where the team believes that “we all will collectively know/learn all”, though each individually does not know it all.

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