It is often hard to explain the shift out of unilateral control and into Servant or Humble Leadership. I am finding that using anti-patterns helps. This is one that I am finding all over at the moment. It has a number of variations but the essence is that you have to have an answer, to know or you are judged as incompetent.

This assumption means that leaders of teams have to know exactly what is going on at all times so that at any time they can answer questions. They also have to know the detail as well as the experts they hire, if not better because they are held accountable for the solutions in place and what if the people they pay get it wrong ? They will be judged as incompetent and humiliated.

The end result of this assumption is:

  • Micromanagement
  • Distrust of the team
  • No space for team members to shine or even use their competence (they are there to implement the brilliant solutions that the leader has come up with, not think)
  • Little to no feedback
  • Insufficient information to make good decisions
  • Last minute surprises
  • Compliance and grudging execution
  • Little to no initiative
  • Phrases like : “But I did what you told me to”, or “What do you want us to do ? ” or even, “There is no point asking the team for input, they just sit there and look at you. They want to be told what to do”

To put this another way. How much do you enjoy having no voice ? How much do you enjoy working in spaces where your job is to shut up and do what you are told ? This is in effect the space that is being created for others when you show up living this assumption.

The big question here is that is this assumption valid ?

Why do we so easily believe that it is true and valid ?

What is wrong with not knowing something ? Actually, is it even possible to learn if you don’t know things ? In todays world I would suggest that it is impossible to know everything that is needed to be known.

In todays world we need to be able to access the inherent expertise in the teams we work with to be able to get solutions that are workable.

What would it take for you to shift into a new assumption, that your competence isn’t based on you and you alone having the answers and knowing ?