Have you ever felt paralyzed by the fact that you don’t have all the answers in a matter regarding leadership? You recognize your need to lead, however you feel stuck because you have questions swirling around in your mind for which you don’t currently have an answer. Never mind a correct answer, you don’t feel like you have an answer at all. This dilemma can become paralyzing, thus I’ve given it the nickname ‘analysis paralysis’. I would say that I’ve matured as a leader to the point that I can kick myself out of analysis paralysis with the exception of one leadership role within my life – my role as spiritual leader of my family.
When it comes to leading a team of professionals through major projects or a group of volunteers through a ministry endeavor, having to answer a question with the words “I don’t know yet” doesn’t seem to stop me dead in my tracks the way such a notion does with my family. I can’t exactly put my finger on the issue, but I just know that the idea of telling my children or my wife that I don’t know brings about a fear and sense of insecurity that keeps me on the sidelines rather than out front leading them. My mind can run endlessly through scenarios for which I have no answers. Telling my family that “I don’t know” is such a scary proposition that I’d prefer to refer to it by its twitter handle ‘idk’.
So how do we overcome this analysis paralysis? Whether you feel this sense of paralysis at work, at church, or at home (like I do), I think the most important step to overcome this paralysis is understanding the feelings of those you should be leading. I find it helpful to consider the thoughts and feelings of those being told “I don’t know” as a means to overcome the fear and insecurity that paralyzes.
No One Has All The Answers
Sure, everyone would like for their leaders to have all the correct answers, but everyone understands this to be an unrealistic expectation. I’ve come to realize that my children don’t expect me to have all the answers; the same goes for the most senior of professionals at the office. People are more concerned with a leader’s willingness and ability to lead through uncertainty than they are with the notion a leader should have all the correct answers.
I Will Find Out
I recall from my years in the military the meritorius promotion review board. In order to receive a meritorius promotion, you must first stand before this review board as they ask you every question under the sun. It was inevitable that they would ask a question to which you didn’t have an answer. At that point you have two options; make something up and hope it is correct or simply state “I don’t know right now, but I will find out”. I can’t properly communicate the importance of that second part to the response. Just know for certain, the next time you run into one of those very senior review board members, he will determine if in fact you went to “find out”. Your team or family doesn’t want you to lead them astray by blowing smoke, they just want to know that you will be diligent to find answers.
Help Is On The Way
Your team or family is not only willing to accept the occasional “I don’t know”, they are willing to help you find the answer. This not only assists in getting to the right answers, this also promotes the growth of your team. The loyal team member views the ‘idk’ moment as an opportunity to step up and help find the needed answers. Additionally, having team members help will promote acceptance and buy-in.
In the end, no one likes to admit that we don’t have needed answers. However, it is important that we recognize our team members or families want to hear the truth from us. They want to know that we are willing to put in the work to get to the needed answers and they are willing to help. So the next time you find yourself in an ‘idk’ moment, consider these points and lead on through the uncertainty.
What do you have that you can share with the rest of us on this topic? Use the comments below to share your stories of analysis paralysis and how you overcome the uncertainly found in not having all the answers.