Knowing Too Much to Be a Good Leader

Knowledge is power. But can you ever know too much or be too powerful? Yes, you can if your wisdom and people skills do not grow along with your knowledge.

I usually don’t learn a lot during the halftime commentaries of televised sports events. But the halftime of this year’s NCAA basketball championship was an exception. The legendary coach John Wooden was in the booth to comment on the game, and the anchor remarked on Wooden’s tremendous successes in building championship teams. Wooden responded with some key things he had learned in his years of coaching.

Knowledge of the game was important. Wooden said that he accumulated a lot of knowledge about basketball and how to win games over a number of years. At first, his teams progressed apace of his knowledge.

At a point, though, his knowledge became too much. Looking back, Wooden commented that he began to push his teams too hard. For a few years he felt the teams were not succeeding as he knew they were capable of. Then, he discovered if he backed off a little, and did not demand that his players immediately learn everything he knew, his teams tended to win more games.

What Wooden discovered was the value of letting people work from their own knowledge and to take pride in working better as their knowledge grows. Pushing them beyond their capabilities can increase their stress, confusion and errors and, perhaps, even undermine team spirit and generate resentment against the “boss.”

Knowledge unbridled by wisdom can hurt an organization even if it does not come from the boss. An executive headhunter and career consultant once told me of a brilliant executive (let’s call him George) who hired him to assess his chances of becoming the CEO of a large corporation when the current chief retired. George had innovated many successful product lines for the company, and he always had the right answers to any management challenge.

The headhunter conducted some discreet interviews among the management and the board and reported back that George wouldn’t have any chance to be named CEO if he did not change his ways. The interviews uncovered widespread resentment to George’s always having the right answer, always having it first and virtually never allowing his peers or subordinates to develop and act on ideas created from their own knowledge. Most of the company’s key personnel felt they were stagnating under George’s know-it-all one-man show.

An owner who wants optimum productivity needs people to grow in responsibility based on the growth of their own knowledge. When Wooden “backed off a little” he made room for players’ enjoyment and pride in their own efforts.

There exist numerous reasons why a buyer need to order a prepaid phone cards but the most important purpose is that they saves capital.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.