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Ever Met Mr. Know It All?

By Joey Havens

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This blog is the fifth in the series, My Top 10 Blunders and How You Can Avoid Them.

Maybe you have met someone that you labeled as Mr. or Ms. Know It All. I was that guy and somehow, I developed the belief that I would get further in my career if I was always right. So, I simply never conceded when I was wrong – convenient memory I call it.  I could always share a story about a situation where I was right, but simply couldn’t recollect having supported a bad idea. I began to notice that some of the leaders who I respected the most did not have this convenient memory problem. In fact, it seemed that I respected them even more when they admitted they were wrong.  This helped me reflect on my own ego and the selfish desire to always be right.   

My self-awareness also grew stronger in relation to this weakness as I became aware of the fact that I was making team members wrong. I was right and they were wrong. This caused them to feel undervalued and certainly reflected poorly on my leadership. If I’m totally honest, I was getting satisfaction from being able to say, “I told you so.” This is certainly behavior that I am not proud of and that is why I am sharing my story. It is not fun or rewarding to be labeled Mr. Know It All. 

When I realized that I was hurting myself and my team members with this attitude, my growth and my team’s growth skyrocketed.  Once I helped create an environment where it was okay to make mistakes, own them and learn from them, we found more success as a team. In fact, some of my most rewarding moments as a leader have come after I owned my mistakes. 

My advice: Leadership is helping someone else be right, helping them succeed. Be tentative with your beliefs and publicly own your mistakes. Today I keep this statement with me: I MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT. Do you need a daily reminder in your life?