Being in the Right Mode
You can always tell if a leader is in “knowing” or “learning” mode. Just look to the questions they ask — or the lack of them.
When in knowing mode, leaders are the experts at directing traffic about what others should do about what they know to be true. Because they know, leaders in this mode often fail to bring others along with them in their knowledge. Knowing shuts doors and conversations.
When in learning mode, leaders seek answers and viewpoints — even when they have some conviction of what is likely a good conclusion or path forward. By asking what others think and seeking new information, leaders in learning mode engage others and create understanding and dialogue.
Leaders who are always in knowing mode underestimate the wisdom of others. Their self-confidence deflates discussions and team meetings.
Leaders always in learning mode take too long to get to good answers and outcomes.
Sometimes, leaders just need to act on what they know and not beat around the bush. The best leaders vacillate comfortably between knowing and learning mode. They ask good questions and explore with curiosity when their expertise or knowledge is limited — which is much of the time. When they feel confident, and not arrogant, in their views, they act with speed and decisiveness.
Being in the “right” mode is critical in leading others. Maybe you already know that.