Know What You Don't Know
I was meeting with an executive who is leading a large organization. It is nothing short of amazing what he has accomplished during his tenure. He inherited a culture of stagnation and negativity. He has worked hard over the past few years to develop a work environment that created clarity and direction. The organization is now growing and the team is forming into a healthy and high performing unit. You would think that he would be basking in his success as a leader. Instead, he was concerned.
He had developed a series of questions and concerns to discuss that centered on one thing. In his words, "How do I get myself, our team and our organization to the next level?" We developed a plan that would include collecting data, building a plan and executing with accountability.
What struck me as being so unique was not his question about getting to the next level, but rather the awareness that this leader possessed of his need to know more. His desire to grow was founded in his decision to seek knowledge from others. In other words, he knew what he didn’t know.
The desire to learn is perhaps the most critical attribute of an effective and impactful leader. When things are going well, it is easy to take the credit and convince ourselves that we have all the answers. This creates a slippery slope into poor leadership. This leader's desire to be a life long learner will catapult him into the next level of leadership.
When we realize the difference in what we think we know and what we actually know, we will make a difference.