Don’t be a know-it-all, be a learn-it-all

From WeAreTheCity’ Future Leader’s blog

Don’t be a know-it-all be a learn–it–all”

Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft

As leaders and influencers we are always learning, we can’t possibly have all the answers, how could we know everything? Yet so many leaders think they have to have all the answers. When leaders are comfortable and confident with who they are, they are OK with learning rather than feeling they have to know it all.

It is like kids at school – if one of them is a know-it-all and the other is a learn-it-all, the learn-it-all will always do better than the other one even if the know-it-all starts with more capability because they are demonstrating a desire to learn. This desire to learn creates inspiring Leadership, where others want to follow on the journey with that Leader.

It comes back to our emotional intelligence and our ability to be humble. As leaders we want to:

  • Create a learning culture, one that encourages and allows others to learn
  • Remember that if we don’t keep learning we stop growing. And with the speed of change in our ever changing world we can’t possibly be complacent and stop learning.

We are not saying you don’t need knowledge, of course you do, but it is how you use that knowledge and continue to gain it that is the differentiating factor in the future and how you will be more successful.

This desire to learn creates engaged followership, who wants to follow a know-it-all?

What learning culture are you creating?

What behaviours do you want to role model – those of a know-it-all or a learn-it–all?

Start learning more today; be inquisitive, be courageous! It is endearing and others will want to follow you. Not many people want to follow a know-it-all. After all, what can you learn from them if they don’t keep learning?

About the authors

Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.

Their latest book, multi-award-winning ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions”, published by Financial Times International is a practical tool for building winning teams. You can download a free chapter of the book at

Praise for ”Leading Teams”: I bought in from the first paragraph; ten chapters of real and practical examples on how to lead a team with characters skilfully portraying the tensions faced by leaders every day. A leadership masterclass.

Lynn Hill, Deputy CEO, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Turst, Hertfordshire.

Leading through change, what impact are you having?

From WeAreTheCity’s Future leader’s blog

“Whosoever desire constant success must change his conduct with the times”

Niccolo Machiavelli

Change Change Change – how are we leading it, managing it or not?

Let’s look at a story about change and the impact of a leader who is further along the change curve than anyone else and who has not consulted others in the process.

Sam, the new leader had been thinking about the reorganisation and the changes he was going to make for about three months. That was plenty of time for him to get used to the idea. He was under time pressure to turn around results within the next six months. He knew speed and efficiency were of the essence. Sam decided to communicate all about it so he sent an email to all his employees announcing a new organisation structure that would come into play in one month’s time.

Sam’s email was met with silence, so he took that as a message to say that everyone was happy with the change. He was even pleased with himself for getting it right. This was of course not the case, Sam had incorrectly interpreted silence as acceptance. He didn’t realise this until his boss angrily approached him asking him about the commotion that had broken out in the office. Speculation and defensive behaviours had taken grip of the workforce as a result of his poor change communication; he had not considered the impact on others. One conversation he overheard went something like this:

‘I feel run over, unimportant – like I’m an outsider who’s not important enough for my manager to spend time on. It feels so impersonal, as if we are dispensable and should just obey orders. My trust is gone and I don’t know what’s going on.’

Are you familiar with this story, have you experienced it before or indeed have you created it before? When we have the common “busy bug”, dashing around, we are all so busy that we simply make quick assumptions about others and indeed think they are with us. And as we can see in the story above, this is not always the case.

People typically change their behaviours out of pleasure or pain. It’s either too painful to keep doing something or it will be so rewarding to change it that you do it for that reason. So if you are getting painful results as a leader or if others are unwilling to change, consider changing your approach.

”People typically change their behaviours out of pleasure or pain”

To manage change effectively in teams, you continuously have to think about your team members and where they are on the change curve. Think about how they feel and how to approach them in a way that matches their needs, so that necessary change can happen at a faster pace.

Change Curve

Think about how you can communicate to help people see the possibilities of change. Help people understand that they can cope with it. Give them coping strategies and ensure that you have a communication strategy and plan around the change – it is so obvious that people miss it!

Where are you on the change curve and where are others? Match where others are to bring them through the change curve to get the best results.

Follow the story further in Chapter 8 (How do you get a team to manage change effectively?) in our book “Leading team: 10 Challenges 10 Solutions”

About the authors

Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.

Their latest book, multi-award-winning ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions”, published by Financial Times International is a practical tool for building winning teams. You can download a free chapter of the book at

Praise for ”Leading Teams: ”Enjoyable to read. Simple to understand. Practical to implement. A must read for team members or leadersDebbie Fogel-Monnissen, Executive Vice President, International Markets Finance Officer, Mastercard, NY, USA

The role of a leader

From 2020 Vision leader’s blog

So much has been said said about leadership over the years, so much research is available. You may for example have heard about the concepts of Authentic Leadership, Charismatic Leadership, Situational Leadership, Ethical Leadership, Emotional Intelligence in Leaders and Level 5 Leadership…the list goes on. They are all good and relevant concepts in their own right – and concepts have come and gone based on business challenges and a changing world, all which demand different qualities in leaders.

There is no exact answer when it comes to leadership. Leadership is a very individual thing, it’s not possible to just copy what someone else does to get the same result. This is proof that leadership is much more than just following a process, a model – if it was that simple, everyone could do it – easily.

No, each leader needs to find his/her own style, making the most of his/her unique combination of capabilities, in the specific setting they are in – their industry, their location, their organization. Some leaders are great because they are verbal, others because they are reflective – there is no one perfect answer, no one way of being.

This is bad and good news. Bad because it’s not as simple as “implementing a process”. Good because everyone can do it their way – it does take some work though, and it’s well worth it.

Simply put a leader needs to be effective working on these levels

  • Self
  • Individual team members
  • The team as a whole
  • With other stakeholders

And of course, at an organizational level, if senior enough – but we will park that one for a later blog.

Let’s look at them one at a time.

SELF. A leader needs to know him/herself well – really know themselves. Strengths, weaknesses, drivers, motivation factors, interests, energizers, how he/she is perceived by others etc. The better a leader knows him/herself the better they can lead themselves. This makes it possible to be more consistent as a leader, not just reacting to events but effectively managing their impact on others, creating trust. Besides, how could you lead others if you can’t lead yourself effectively?

INDIVIDUAL TEAM MEMBERS. People want to be seen and heard. If a leader can really see and hear each of his/her team members, they can get to know them, understand them, recognize their talents and bring them out, engage people on their terms. Employee engagement is a major success factor in business – it impacts productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee retention (source: Gallup).

THE TEAM AS A WHOLE. A leader is instrumental in getting all the individuals on a team to in the same direction, work towards the same goals. It takes involvement (shared leadership), vision/purpose work, agreement on how to work together – all which can be facilitated by the leader. But before all of that comes getting to know each other in the team, talk, share, exchange, making sure that all the skills and talents in the team are beneficial to the whole team, to multiply success. Again the leader plays a big role in making this a reality.

WTIH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS. A leader also needs to be aware of the world around him/her, understanding who the key stakeholders are, making strategic and practical connections, taking an interest in the stakeholders, understanding their needs. You could argue that all business is about stakeholder management, as without stakeholders there is no business. And the most challenging aspect of stakeholder management is considering the impact on ALL stakeholders, as trying to please one stakeholder can often have a negative impact on another one… And by managing stakeholders (together with team members) the leader ensure the good relationships needed for the team to do a good job, opening and keeping open doors of business.

This short post is not claiming to give a complete answer to leadership, it simply states that leadership can be learnt and all leaders probably have room for development. Which of the areas above would be the most important/valuable for you to focus on?

You don’t need all the answers, just good questions

From 2020 Vision leader’s blog

Are you a leader?

Do you feel like you have to have all the answers?

Well, you don’t. In fact, you shouldn’t. It would in fact be absurd if you had all the answers – because no-one does. And if someone thinks he/she has all the answers, he/she is wrong – simple as that.

Let go of the idea that you have to have all the answers about anything. Things are changing so fast that even if you did have the answers to something, those answers may be outdated.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with leaders in many global organisations over the last 20 years and my most shared advice in my talks, coaching and training is probably this:

Ask good questions!

Through questions you listen.

Through questions you involve people.

Through questions you create dialogue.

Through questions you encourage innovation.

Through questions you learn new things.

Through questions you understand more – and can find better answers.

So if you haven’t got it already, create a good list of questions that you can take to internal and external meetings, coaching sessions and development talks. And become an excellent listener – be 100% present as you listen to answers and input. You won’t regret it.

The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

From 2020 Vision leader’s blog

Is that you?

Leadership is changing fast. And emotional intelligence is climbing to the top of desired leadership abilities. The ability to relate to others, to “get people”, to see people, to value others, to take care of how we impact others, to connect with people in such a way that they want to go that famous extra mile. Emotional intelligence is about being clever with people – ourselves and others.

Although, let’s face it, wasn’t great leadership always about emotional intelligence?

Don’t we all remember those leaders we’ve had (and I hope that you, like me, have had at least one!) who were about more than the job – more than the technical abilities, more than just a “goal achiever”. Someone who just made you want to go to work. Someone who made you see that work is fun.

When I first became a leader, some 24 years ago, there were no great attempts to try to help leaders be just that – people who lead. I might have learned the technicalities of the job as a manager, but I found it very difficult to deal with the difficult situations. A lot of is was gut instinct and either you had it or you didn’t.

Leadership development has come a long way since the early 90’s but sadly very few leadership development activities, even to this day, have the desired effect. Not because they are bad, but because they rarely change behaviours. And that’s what leadership comes down to, behaviours.

Or like Maya Angelou so eloquently said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget what you said”

We all have emotional intelligence (in different ways) AND we can create more of it. It’s all about our behaviours and how they effect others.

Watch this space – emotional intelligence will continue to grow in importance. And that’s good, for people and for sustainable businesses.

Can you learn leadership from a book?

From 2020 Vision leader’s blog

There’s a wealth of leadership books to choose from if you want to gain knowledge about leadership.

But gaining knowledge and really learning so that you can apply your knowledge is not the same thing.

Leaders will need to continuously learn, to meet the needs of their stakeholders and to drive business results, now and in 2020 and beyond – that is certain.

However, reading a book or attending a leadership seminar doesn’t guarantee a change in behaviour, a true development.

So how can you develop leadership?

How do you apply knowledge in the best way? How do you make use of all those leadership books and achieve real learning?