The other day, Forbes published an interesting blog post: 4 Things I’ve Gained from Admitting “I Don’t Know.” This is a really interesting insight about when it is appropriate to stay guarded and when it is time to be candid. I personally have a tendency to be candid, almost to a fault, and have often been taught to be a little more guarded and use “the party line” as the article suggests.
There certainly is value in admitting you don’t know something as suggested by the 4 benefits in the article: Ideas, Direction, Space, and Confidence. However, I would argue that a good leader should use discretion when saying “I don’t know.” I agree that there is a lot of inherent value in sharing this candid response, and most of the time it is the correct thought to share. There are also times when it may be beneficial to remain a little tight-lipped before spilling all of the beans. This is certainly an interesting thought. When do you think it is appropriate to admit “I don’t know” and when should you avoid that statement?
I’ve come to recognize that it’s far more important to be confident in my ability to make good decisions than it is for me to be confident in any one answer or solution. So now, instead about worrying whether any given initiative is a the best answer or a “home run,” I instead trust that I will know when to invest more or when it’s time to pull the plug, once I have more information. And recognizing this has made it a whole lot easier to talk with others about an initiative or project I’m not sure about yet.