When leadership is confused with the need to know everything it can lead to cultures of bluff where people feel it’s more important to give a response (including a wrong one) than acknowledge doubt.
Instead, these three simple words from a leader can establish a very different context: I don’t know.
“I don’t know” puts the focus on rigour and says many things including:
- Let’s not assume;
- We need data not anecdotes;
- Let’s find out.
Then why is saying it so difficult?
For one, we like to believe that certainty is possible.
This is despite knowing that many of the things we once through to be true we now know to be false (that the earth is flat or that ulcers are caused by stress, for example) and that this will most likely happen again in the future.