Three powerful words a leader can say: “I don’t know.”
At the US Naval Academy we could only answer “Yes sir!” “No sir!” and “I’ll find out sir!” — responding “I don’t know” was strictly forbidden. The reason was, as future junior officers, we needed to learn to take initiative to find out what we didn’t know. “I don’t know” was just too passive.
As a leader, however, I’ve learned that “I don’t know” is one of the most powerful things you can say (especially when you don’t actually know!).
The reason is because when the leader says “I don’t know” it allows and encourages three things in your organization:
So, you might want to follow “I don’t know” with something like “How can we learn more?” but don’t be afraid of “I don’t know.”
Find a reason to say it today.
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