Those three little words
IYKYK... or maybe you don't
Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked with a leader who thought they knew it all. 🙋♀️
(You’re picturing that awful boss right now, aren’t you? Wow, that was quick!)
These are the same people who worked extra hard to make sure others were aware of their vast knowledge base and used every opportunity to brag.
Secretly, those leaders were terrified of admitting a lack of knowledge, fearful that they’d be categorized as weak or ineffectual if exposed.
But the truth is, others likely viewed them as obnoxious, out of touch, fixed in their ways, and unwilling to acknowledge any blind spots.
Ironically, saying, “I don’t know,” could have strengthened their leadership position.
Here’s why the best leaders embrace those three little words:
They know that cockiness isn’t the same as confidence.
An arrogant, emotionally immature know-it-all does most of the talking; a confident leader with EQ is self-aware enough to admit to not having all the answers and is willing to listen to others who might.
They understand that being human is more important than being right.
When you can say “I don’t know” with authority and sincerity, it shows that you’re willing to be vulnerable and a perfectly imperfect human. Rather than an untouchable who’s always right, you’re viewed as someone genuine who cares about getting it right.
They rely on and are open to learning from others.
Intelligent individuals don’t threaten the best leaders; they surround themselves with smart people because they’re open to learning from others.
They demonstrate intellectual humility.
Research shows that leaders willing to recognize what they think and believe might be wrong have an advantage over those who rely on ego and power, gaining influence and earning others’ respect and loyalty.
They understand that “I don’t know” isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning.
The savviest leaders aren’t content with giving up; they’re empowered by three more words: “I’ll find out.”
And speaking of three little words…
Think you know the#1 thing employees value the most? (It’s okay if you don’t — we just talked about that!)
According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report, it’s not a “hefty comp package” or even “enviably kick-ass benefits.”
It’s a true work-life balance.
In my latest Forbes article, I share why companies that don’t take flexibility and worker well-being seriously won’t meet the expectations of today’s professionals — and could lose them. ✅
P.S. Now that we’re inbox-exclusive (love that about us!), why not follow my musings across the interwebs on Forbes, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram too? And if you really want to get meta, subscribe to my new weekly LinkedIn newsletter, momentum, featuring insights to help you maintain positive motion and continually grow your career. (As a bonus, it links to ALL of my content for the week, so you’ll never miss a thing and keep the momentum going!)
P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or not having any qualms saying, “I don’t know,” I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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