Leaders don’t know it all | © Fola Daniel Adelesi

There is no wisdom in thinking that you are a leader and for that reason you must know everything. No one has arrived and has learnt everything that needs to be learnt on earth. You can safely say that all of us are like work in progress in one way or the other. Even if you make a professor a leader, you will realize that his knowledge is limited. After all, he’s only a professor in a given field.

If you are a leader in any field you don’t have to struggle to make it look like you already know all that you need to know. Some leaders realize that there are followers who know more than them in certain things and they start feeling uncomfortable around such followers. In a few organisations the leaders will begin to strategize on how to silence such followers.

You don’t gain anything by looking for ways to shut someone down because the person seems to know more. The person can actually be of a great value to your leadership journey. When you see smart leaders in any organisations, one of the things they do is to look for the best brains in the different areas that the organisation has to cover. Those brains may not totally decide what he or she will do but they help in the decision making process.

Have you not realized that each time a President is elected one of the first things the President does is to appoint ministers and special advisers? Why do presidents do that? The first thing is that they don’t know it all. Even when you know a lot about a certain field you still cannot do everything. There is the need for serious and systematic delegation.

It is not nice for a leader not to know anything and I don’t encourage such. You must be on your toes and learn always. Make sure that from time to time you are learning something new especially in the field where you are leading. If you are leading teenagers you must read a lot about teenagers and study them. If you are leading people generally you have to read wide on the behaviours of people and why they sometimes do what they do.

You cannot be a leader in the ICT industry and not know how to power on a computer or use some basic gadgets like tablets or smart phones. Even if you were asked to come and lead in a field that was not your field, you have automatically been given the responsibility to do your research and apply the things you have learnt.

Despite all the research and trainings you will do because of the leadership role you now have, you may have those who will be under you and they have been in that field for years. They know so much and may know more than you. You don’t have to feel threatened by such people. If you don’t have your self-esteem in check then you may feel threatened by such people.

What you should even do is to bring them closer. There is nothing wrong in asking such people questions and learning from them. If you do something and they contributed majorly to it, give them some credit and as you are learning from this person, look for other ways to learn. If you become stuck with learning form only this person, the person will soon become the leader and you will become the follower. The person knows that you are learning from him or her and can lead a revolt if you don’t agree, at some point, with what is being suggested. You would have given the person too much power.

I remember that as undergraduates, we used to joke about some of the assignments that our lecturers would give to us. Once some lecturers give us term papers to write, we would conclude that the lecturer is trying to use the information the students will supply for his own project. To an extent this was true and now I can say that some of those lecturers were smart. They were using their students indirectly to get more information about what they needed to know.

If you are faced with a situation as a leader, you don’t always have to take decisions immediately if the situation is not an emergency. You may go back and take some time to quickly learn what needs to be done. However, this cannot always be the case because there will be several occasions where a leader has to be spontaneous.

A smart leader does not have to prove that he knows it all, especially if he does not know so much. What he needs to be smart about it how to use the people he has to answer the questions that need to be answered and solve the problems that need to be solved.

Get it straight; no matter how long you have been leading you still don’t know it. Work with the people who know it and learn from them in order to become a better leader. There is no shame in having a leader learn from a follower. The real shame is in refusing to learn something new and limiting the entire team when someone in the team can see another way out.


Fola Daniel Adelesi
President/CEO,
Edible Pen.

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One thought on “Leaders don’t know it all | © Fola Daniel Adelesi

  1. Great post Fola Daniel! Leaders can’t know everything and are not required to know everything. That is something all leaders must know. However, having said that, leaders should keep on to learning new things that will hep them in their leadership journey.

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