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Leadership Nudge® 328 – “Know, Don’t Tell” and the Ladder

Use the Ladder of Leadership to become a “Know, Don’t Tell” leader.

watch this Nudge for more information Leadership Nudge® 327 – Be a “Know, Don’t Tell” Leader


One of our frameworks is focused on this idea of knowing and telling. And the idea is, you want as much as possible to be a “Don’t Tell” leader. The trick is, even when you think you know the answer, don’t operate on this axis. This is where most people operate. “I don’t know it so I can’t tell” and “I do know so I can tell.” 

You want to operate across here. If I know it (you want to know your job), but you decide to what degree I am going to tell the team what to do.  How directive am I going to be? And this connects directly with our tool, which is the Ladder of Leadership.  The ladder is the way we control moving up and down this axis. 

It’s not binary, we don’t recommend saying, well, I made a decision yesterday. Well, but now it’s your decision. That’s too big of a jump that’s going from one all the way to six, which I’m not even showing here. It’s scary. That’s why it doesn’t work. Because it’s scary for both the leader and it’s scary for the person who needs to make the decision. All of a sudden they’re thrust into this, oh, now I’m gonna make a decision. It’s a victim of binary thinking. 

What we have is a continuum. So just think about it like, okay, I want to move the person from, “I’m making a decision” to “they’re making a decision.”  First, they provide input, and they provide analysis and they can say, “Well, here’s what I recommend.” And then here’s “what I would do if you weren’t here.” Here’s “what I intend to do.” So this is how the ladder connects with the “Know, Don’t Tell” matrix. 

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge.



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