Reflecting on Monday’s post, and on management overconfidence generally, I remembered that I had blogged on a similar theme before. How do you maintain the aura of confidence that people want in their leaders when all you have is questions? When things are uncertain and you don’t have any answers, how to you come over as being self-assured? Confident but not really sure, as Bob Sutton says, or, as my good friend Mike Vernon puts it, “competently incompetent”.
It’s not easy. Asking questions can be much harder than giving answers. This dilemma brought to mind the reading that my wife chose for her confirmation. It’s part of a long poem by the 17th century lawyer, priest and MP John Donne. He was writing about religion but these lines work in any context:
…doubt wisely; in strange way
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray;
To sleep, or run wrong, is.
On a huge hill, Cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will reach her, about must and about must go…
It’s 400 years old but as true as it ever was.