Leaders Don’t Need to Know all the Answers


“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” —Claude Levi-Strauss

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


You Don’t Need to Know the Answers

Ruth Benedict explained, “The trouble with life isn’t that there is no answer, it’s that there are so many answers.” No one person can know everything or have all the answers. When you get into the mindset that, as a leader, you must know all of the answers, you have immediately set yourself up for failure.

‘I don’t know’ is one of the hardest things to say. Somehow, these three little words make us feel inept. When, in all actuality, these three words might be the smartest thing you have ever said. Gore Verbinski advised us, “I think you can never ever lie, ever. If you don’t know, say ‘I don’t know’.” You don’t need to know all the answers; you just need to know how to ask the right questions.

So, get comfortable with ‘I don’t know’. Learn to ask the right questions and see what new and amazing ideas come out of the answers that you receive.

You Need to Ask the Right Questions

Indira Gandhi said, “The power to question is the basis of all human progress.” Asking questions with an open-mind allows you to step outside your point-of-view and see problems and situations in completely new ways. You must develop a growth mindset; asking questions with the curiosity of a child for which you do not already have an answer in mind.

Asking great questions can lead to innovative, new ideas. Intriguing questions can even open rabbit holes to greater questions. When we bring a diverse group of people together to contemplate stimulating questions, we may get fascinating answers. According to Eugene Ionesco, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

Learn to let go of thinking that you need to have all the answers, learn to ask the right questions, and open a world of amazing possibilities.



© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.