David got a question recently – “What if my boss demands that I ‘know all the answers?’ I’m in an organization where we really value knowing.” Here’s David with some strategies.
Hey! Got a question recently – “What if my boss demands that I ‘know all the answers?’ I’m in an organization where we really value knowing.”
Well, I got mixed feelings about it. Because, now I don’t really have a problem with knowing. I think knowing is important. I think a lot of people would do better if they actually knew their jobs better. If they knew . . . had the technical knowledge of their jobs better. I mean, this comes from my experience, on the submarines where you couldn’t, like, talk your way out of operating a nuclear reactor properly. It was like you knew or you didn’t.
So I’m sympathetic to an environment where we know. The problem is linking KNOWING with TELLING and demanding that we “know things that are unknowable.”
Like, for example, how well is this product going to do or things about the future that aren’t bounded like a nuclear reactor is?
Here’s a couple strategies.
Number one, separate what you know from what you think. So you say, “Here’s what I know.” That’s description, level two on the ladder. “Here’s what I think.” And if you can add a probability – I’m 60% Confident in this assessment. And then go to what I plan to do about it. Here’s what I know, here’s what I think, here’s what I plan to do about it.
Number two, add the probability every time you . . . say . . . every time you move into the assessment range, give a probability too – like the weather forecasters do.
Number three, ask for time, or answer the question, but then ask for time. Say, “Hey, if I were to answer right now, I’d say this, but I’d really like to check with my team or check the book or run an experiment and find out.” I wouldn’t avoid answering the question. That will make you feel seem like avoidant or unhelpful and I wouldn’t do that. I would answer, but then I would say, “Hey, I can do better with this. If I get a chance to talk to my team.”
I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge.