More and more, I believe that as a manager, I don’t need to know it all – or act like I know it all. In fact, it would be pretty crazy in a world so complex and with such a rich and constant flow of information to entertain such a notion.
In management, you do need confidence. That includes a visible assurance that you can be relied on, and that you accept the authority and responsibility that is yours as a manager. But this assurance is not about all-knowingness. It’s an inner confidence that frees you to be a truly effective leader.
It is this inner confidence that allows you to look for answers outside yourself, to take the time needed to ponder complex situations, and to trust that the people you work with can be part of the solution. With this kind of confidence, you can do what you think is right even if it isn’t popular and, just as important, you can be true to your own management style even when it doesn’t meet with others’ opinion of what being in charge looks like.
Even when things go wrong – and they certainly sometimes will – this can be the worst time to “know it all.” This is the point where you need to take in concerns or critiques, analyze why decisions have gone bad, and figure out what to do next. This is the time when you need to be most flexible to rethink and reassess, not with diminished confidence but with full confidence that you can figure out the way forward.
I am relieved that I don’t need to know it all, and I see it as part of my mature wisdom that I finally get why that’s not possible or even desirable.