Aleta Maxwell

Confident Leaders Don't Pretend to Have All the Answers

It all starts when we take our first role in leadership.  

Maybe you became an assistant manager, and you weren’t sure how to act, but you were now the person other people came to with questions.

You were dealing with some imposter syndrome, not feeling completely confident in your new role.

You wanted to gain respect and impress your boss. Therefore, you felt that you needed to have the answers.  

Fake it till you make it, right?  

Well, it started that way and it’s just never stopped. The urge to pretend you know, when really, you don’t always know.  

Our culture says leaders are “experts” and everyone wants to be an expert! It’s a badge of honor and a highly valued title. But I think our culture has mistakenly defined an expert as having all the answers.  

Does anyone really have all the answers, even if they are seasoned experts in their field?  

I find that leaders who pretend to have all the answers actually come across as insecure and unwilling to be a part of a team. When leaders pretend to know the answers, they don’t collaborate with their team in a respectful way. They might delegate but they usually don’t seek opinions and team members’ perspectives. This does not create a team that feels seen, heard and valued.  

How can you be confident and not pretend to know it all?    
  • Confident leaders know they can’t and shouldn’t have all the answers.
    They are much more willing to learn from everyone around them, regardless of their position.  

    I’ve loved working with leaders who know their strengths and weakness and have been transparent about those qualities to those around them. These leaders can lift up those on their team and rely on the strengths of others which bolsters the team and encourages development.

  • Confident leaders know their value is about their experience and ability to motivate and inspire their team, not about being “right” or knowing it all.
    Even if you are highly experienced and extremely knowledgeable in your field, can you inspire and motivate your team? If not, I’d say you are a highly experienced and knowledgeable employee…but maybe not a great leader. 

    I believe someone should be in a leadership position not just because they are knowledgeable but because they can develop and motivate the team that looks to them.

    A confident leader has the goal to create other experienced and knowledgeable people from within their team. This takes patience and an attitude of continual learning. Because learning how to motivate others is an ongoing education.  

  • Confident leaders admit to their own weaknesses and areas of opportunity.
    This vulnerability creates trust and bonding, which will be essential during times of adversity or struggle.  
    Those who can admit their weakness or even just admit when they don’t know the answer, gives space for those to speak up who might have brilliant ideas! When you view your team as people who can collaborate on solutions with you, this creates a positive, unified, and solution-focused team during times of challenge, struggle or even failure. If you are open to learning from others, you build a team that is encouraged to creatively think outside the box for solutions.  

Imagine how freeing that might feel as a leader?

To have a whole team thinking of solutions instead of looking to you to fix it all. Imagine having a team excited to come into work and engaged in producing the best results possible. A team that looks to you for help and advice or to brainstorm instead of waiting until they were at their breaking point to do so. They feel respected and encouraged to own their strengths and build upon them as well as admit to their weaknesses and seek growth. Imagine leading a team that feels valued and appreciated. Imagine not having to pretend to know it all.

Being comfortable admitting what we don’t know and seeking further input, help, or knowledge, is a sign of a confident leader. As a confident leader, you will, in turn, provide stability and a foundation of trust for your team to build upon together, leading them to be able to accomplish even the hardest goals.  

If you need help to get out of the habit of “knowing it all”, contact me. This can take practice and intentionality, especially if you’ve been leading from this place for years.  

I love helping leaders develop the skills to create motivated and highly engaged teams. If that’s your goal, I’m the coach for you.                  

Aleta Maxwell

Aleta Maxwell is a certified executive coach, best-selling author, leadership development content creator, as well as CEO & Founder of Uplifting Leadership.

Aleta has held multiple senior-level leadership roles over the past 25 years in the hospitality industry and non-profit companies.

While partnering with leaders at all levels of management, Aleta utilizes techniques like curiosity, compassion, and courage to help clients become more aligned with their purpose and values. Using these techniques, Aleta collaborates with her clients to uplift their specific leadership skill set and hone the tools needed to develop brand ambassadors in their employees. Find her here.