Nobody Likes a Know it All

It’s a fine line when you’re at the top. A constant balancing act. You must look poised, confident and in control, but more and more articles and surveys show employees (and people in general) don’t like “a know it all.” Leaders need to find the thin line to walk as their teams look to them for guidance, they need to be able to respond with confidence, but not arrogance.

My experience has been there is a time and place to “flex” your knowledge. You can always flex without insulting or coming off arrogant. The Profit, Marcus Lemonis, does a great job in each episode of his TV series demonstrating excellent leadership without being a know-it-all. He helps failing businesses, all with very proud owners, whom he needs to reassure he has the solution they need, but not insult them because he needs their buy-in for the business to turn around.

Below are four tips for being a solid leader without being a know it all.

  • Don’t pretend you know more about a subject than you really do. As a leader you are expected to make good decisions. This includes hiring your team. If you have a Master Engineer on staff and engineering isn’t your background, then call on them to inform you, so you can put all the parts together and make informed decisions.
  • Deliver true and meaningful compliments to your team. However, if you don’t mean it… don’t say it. People can see through a false compliment, faster than they can see through most things.
  • Practice being silent. I know this is a hard one for some people, but one of the best pieces of advice I was given when starting out, was “you don’t always have to answer.” This advice helped me in so many different situations.
  • Leaders must look to their teams for the knowledge they have.

The old saying “people start working for companies and leave managers is true.” I’ve never had anyone quit because the company was bad. I’ve had people stay at bad companies because of good leadership.  Practice the above four and let me know how it goes.

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