A few years ago, we used a great video by Peter Bregman in our collaboration workshops about the power of being able to admit “I don’t know” as a way of getting better outcomes from others.

I was reminded of that recently when a client told a similar story of how they tried it and found it changed the group dynamics of a team meeting significantly with people engaging, stepping up and being creative.

We talked a little about the challenges of being OK personally to try that, and I was left wondering why it seems so hard….

So what assumptions might sit there when I consider saying “I don’t know?”

  • but I should!….(know the answer or what to do)
  • I might look incompetent
  • the boss might think I’m not up for the task
  • my team might think I shouldn’t be in charge
  • I’ll be less able to influence the decision
  • people may point the finger…at me!
  • my reputation might suffer

Or, I could be thinking

  • it’s good I don’t know it all or I might drive this in the wrong direction
  • it will be a great way to tap into the knowledge of the team
  • the boss wants people to innovate and this could draw out new ideas
  • the team will be grateful that they are more likely to be able to contribute their ideas
  • I will be more confident we are making the right decision if it emerges from the work we do together
  • I’m less likely to be blamed if we do this together
  • my reputation will be enhanced as a leader who works with others to get better outcomes

It’s likely that all these thoughts are swimming around…it’s our choice as to which we allow to influence our behaviour as the leader.

I’d love to give you some tips about how to do this, but I don’t know….