Yesterday was my father’s birthday. I have been thinking about him and wishing he was alive.
My father was very smart. He had a genius level IQ. He could play hours of classical piano music without needing sheet music. Stories and jokes flowed out of him regularly and he seldom repeated the same one. He designed and built his retirement home and delicately constructed gorgeous rock walls and terraces around it. Dad could remember scores, player statistics, and other facts about sporting events from his beloved Duke Blue Devils football and basketball teams well into his seventies.
When we played card games, he usually won because of his keen ability to quickly determine probabilities. You could ask him questions about most any topic and he’d almost always have an answer. His facts were seldom incorrect.
But even the smartest people have weaknesses. My father’s weakness was that he thought he was always right.
I remember him telling me years ago that when he was a young teenager, he was in the marching band and that everyone was out of step…except him!
What are the chances of that?
Imagine how frustrating that was to the people he worked with. Maybe you have worked with someone else who thought they were always right. Or maybe it is you. If so, it’s time for some self-examination. Nobody likes to work with someone who always thinks they are right—even if they are!
Think about recent conversations you have had when the parties involved had a difference of opinion.
What did you do?
What did you say?
How was the situation resolved?
Was it your way or the highway?
If you are a leader who has all the answers, people will either default to you too often or avoid coming to you for help because you are a know-it-all.
Below are some statements and questions that you can use to make sure you aren’t thought of as a know-it-all leader:
· Please help to me understand your viewpoint.
· I may be wrong. However, with the facts I have, I would suggest the following.
· What considerations in this decision have I missed?
· I have some opinions on a path to move forward. Before I share them with you, I’d like to hear your thoughts.
· If you were in my shoes, what decision would you make?
· Before we make a final decision, let’s consider the impact of this on our stakeholders.
I loved my father very much and still miss him greatly. But I don’t miss his stubborn insistence that he was already right.
While it’s important to march to the beat of a different drummer at times, if you are always the one out of step, the problem might be you!
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