Are You a 'Know It All' Leader Or A 'Learn It All' Leader?

| By Steven Pritchard

TMA World Leadership

I heard this rather snappy line at a conference recently. 

"Given that knowledge evaporates like petrol, the need to learn and re-learn is crucial in today’s world".

It got me thinking about how people behave in meetings.  I’ve often been introduced as a ‘subject matter expert’ by colleagues. It’s a justifiable label, but only to a point. And I wander if it also leads me to be intellectually complacent, or worse occasionally arrogant. Even if I behave as if I have an open mind, and listen to new ideas that confront my way of thinking; it’s still easy to return to my own ‘conventional wisdom’ because ‘I know’, and time is always short. 

Check your own ‘know it all’ habits. It’s not that you have malign intentions.  

Do you:

  1. Have pre-prepared ideas and simply follow through with pre-prepared answers? 
  2. Know ‘your stuff’ but are inconvenienced by others who also know ‘their stuff’?
  3. Concern yourself with the ‘latest thinking’ or ‘what’s new’, rather than ‘what works’? 

‘Learn it all leaders’ relish the contributions of others, particularly those from different cultures, generations or gender. They are curious and ask provocative questions.

I’m not done with ‘thought leaders’ but I prefer ‘thought feeders’. Leaders who really get us involved, and engaged and who ...might not ‘know it all’. 

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