Many people believe they have to have all the answers. Even worst, they believe that it is demanded from them when they are in a leadership position.
More often than not, people ahead of teams, departments or even companies, believe they have to be seen as people with all the answers, without doubts and extremely secure of themselves. Sometimes it goes side by side with an arrogant attitude.
Sure, most visionary leaders have all that arrogance when they talk about their vision. After all it’s their vision. They have to be the ones who believe that it is possible to reach that vision. Even so, one should be humble enough to hire people that will outgrow you. Those are the ones that will help to take your vision from point A to point B. Moreover, in the pursuit of that point B, when you are humble enough to be the last one to speak and really listen to your people, different outcomes may arise. Who knows if there’s a point C that might be pursuit as a side gig. This approach isn’t that surreal, just look to some of Google’s findings.
But let’s dive into a more micro level, a more “I’m not a CEO” point of view.
In my life’s journey I have met people who hide their flaws or their fears being the arrogant or the clown of the team. As difficult to figure out which are those faults or fears, it is quite easy to figure those people out though.
I had one line manager that was all in in the command-and-control mind set. The team always complied with what he asked, even when we all saw that it would be a messy and not the wisest decision for the team. Even so, no one would try to provide any ideas onto the table. Truth be told, it wasn’t be best environment to work. There were no creativity whatsoever during that period.
Later I learned what a leader might look like. This CTO had not all the answers. He were not the brightest in the entire engineering team. Even so, he could gather the staff to endure long and strange projects. He surrounded himself with bright people. Some were genious-like. Those were the days when I started learning what a Servant Leader is.
Recently I crossed with a story in the Leaders Eat Last book by Simon Sinek where he tells how a US Navy Commander manage to land in a different ship he was instructed into, with the worst team by Navy ranks and turned the situation around.
He even wrote a book about that experience, Turn the Ship Around, whose I did not read yet.
Long story short, the commander did not knew how to operate that type of ship so instead of relying in the command-and-control mode, he empowered all sailors so they could call the shots.
He was humble enough to state that he did not have all the answers. He presented himself as vulnerable, as a team member and not as “a boss”.
Communication is key.
And fear not, your team will not strip your position of power from you. They will see you as a leader. As someone that will take them to unknown waters and in the brink of easy or rough times he will let everyone be heard.
A leader have the vision. A leader know where he wants to take the team. But a leader wants the team to be onboard all the way.
Even if you have the answers, listen first. Be the last to speak. If you are a real leader, they will have your vision in their hearts. Take chances, let your people choose the path. It might not be the same path you thought but it is the path that the team wants to take.
And even in a moment of failure, keep the composure. Do not let the fault fall into your teams shoulders. You might not have all the answers, you might not have all the knowledge of the situation. But pick them up and carry on. Your team will thank you later. Remember, this is a team “sport”.
Be the leader.
Be vulnerable. Be strong.