What to Do When You Don’t Have All the Answers

A colleague of mine has a boss, the CEO of their company, who thinks that as CEO he should have all of the “answers.” Of course he doesn’t have all of the answers and he knows it. Yet he doesn’t want to admit it and he won’t ask for help.

Leaders often put too much pressure on themselves. Because of their titles, they fall victim to the myth that they’re expected to have or should have all of the answers. Well, they aren’t and they shouldn’t. If you’re one of those leaders, take heart. Reframing your thinking can free you from that artificial pressure.

1) It’s not about you, it’s through you

If there is one thing I would sear into the mind of every leader, it’s this: It’s not about you, it’s through you. You don’t have to be the smartest or most knowledgeable person in the room. Your success lies in equipping and enabling your people to be successful. It lies in creating an environment in which they can thrive. It’s about them, not you.

2) Acknowledging your limitations elevates you

One of the paradoxes of leadership is that people have more respect for you when you acknowledge your limitations. They admire your honesty as well as your security in acknowledging limitations. And when you acknowledge others’ strengths, especially in areas where you have limitations, it further elevates you in their eyes.

3) Asking for help builds teamwork

When you ask for help you send the message that it takes a team, that teamwork is valued. It lets people know that if you as the boss are willing to ask for help, then they can feel secure in asking for help. And it provides a welcome invitation for those who take pride in helping others.

You as a leader don’t need to have all the answers. The sooner you embrace that, the sooner you can fully leverage the energy and talents of your team.

That’s leadership.

Make it happen.


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