As an entrepreneur, manager or business person trying to look like you’re at the top of your game, the worst thing you can do is think you know everything.
Regardless of your background and experience, it’s simply not possible to know everything there is about your business, or even your specialty.
And by thinking you know everything and acting on that belief, you’re likely to make more mistakes than you otherwise might.
So what are the risks of a ‘know-everything’ attitude?
- You get it wrong.
- You alienate others who likely know better than you.
- You don’t give others an opportunity to learn and grow from applying their ideas and perhaps even making mistakes.
- You waste the talent around you.
- You miss out on a better way of doing things.
The reason you don’t know everything isn’t because you’re not smart or don’t have enough experience, it’s because the realities of business, technology, finance, operations, logistics, marketing, human resources and the rest of it are simply more complicated and rapidly shifting than anybody can keep up with. That’s why you hired smart people to work with you.
Even the most senior people at some of the largest companies employ consultants and advisors externally as well as relying on and listening to their staff.
Even brilliant entrepreneurs like Bill Gates admits the benefits of someone else knowing more than he does, as the authors of The Trusted Advisor recount him saying:
“It’s important to have someone who you totally trust, who is totally committed, who shares your vision, and yet who has a little bit different set of skills and who also acts as something of a check on you. Some of the ideas you run by him, you know he’s going to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, have you thought about this and that?’ The benefit of sparking off somebody who’s got that kind of brilliance is that it not only makes business more fun, but it really leads to a lot of success”
Of course, you don’t need to be Bill Gates to benefit from the insight and knowledge of others who know more than you do about something.
And even if you don’t end up agreeing with others and move ahead with your ideas, at least you’ve explored options and engaged others in discussion and debate before settling on a particular idea or solution. And both you and they understand the reasons for the final decision.
For those around you, particularly those you are trying to lead, engaging them in the discussion, asking their opinion and truly valuing it will make it easier for you to get things done by building your credibility and earning their respect and trust.
Success of the final idea or initiative is more likely when those who need to execute it have been able to invest in the decision and whether they agree or not, respect the decision and do everything they can to make it successful.
After all, leadership, whether you are a manager, president or entrepreneur, isn’t just about telling people what to do, it’s enticing people to follow you and give it their all.
Sometimes, you can do this best when you admit you can’t know everything.