Someone commented on a blog post that I wrote a long while ago and I figured, “hmmm … we should talk about this more.” So I am.
The then CEO of Lego was quoted as saying “blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help. It changes everything.” I agree. This is where my principle of “say IDK” parallels. It doesn’t matter whether you are a sr. executive or a jr. one. Say “I don’t know.” it helps you, it helps you managers understand where and how to help you, and it also helps someone else have the courage to say it themselves.
I believe this admission of lack of understanding of something and coming right out and saying it should be modeled at the top. Once YOU say “I don’t know” you are helping people help you understand what it is that they are trying to say or allowing them to explain what it is that they do so that you can negotiate better contracts that match delivery to ability (I like that — delivery to ability .. I am going to use it somewhere else).
Truly failure isn’t not knowing but not having the courage to say you don’t know. Failure to admit. As a leader, if you can see that someone is drowning, don’t wait for them to ask for support, just SUPPORT! That is your main job. That is your main function, to know, most of the time, when someone needs help.
In conclusion, most of the time failure is not on one person, it is on a team, for not reaching out and for not speaking out. STOP IT and speak. We will all be better for it.