During a leadership class I was teaching for the California Highway Patrol, we were discussing “Ways of Knowing.” The general premise that I put forth was that a leader routinely asks two questions:
- What do I know?
- How do I know it is true?
As a leader, you are asked to make decisions everyday, based on information provided to you by others. At times, if not all the time, there are competing priorities, viewpoints, agendas and information. To make a good decision, you must wade through people, politics, personalities, organizations, and yes, good old fashion problem solving or analytical assessment.
A perspective that came up during class was the concept of “Trust and Verify.” Trust your team, but verify the information they provide to you. To some this seemed a bit counterintuitive. Why would you verify a source you trust? Simple. People have different perspectives and viewpoints. In addition, sometimes people make mistakes.
You must trust your team, but…. as a leader you are responsible for verifying the information that they pass on to you. Our financial leaders didn’t do this well over the past five years. I’m still not sure that they understand their responsibility here. I have heard too many financial executives say that “we just didn’t know how bad those complex derivatives were.” Hogwash. A leader must constantly wade through information in search of the truth. If someone can’t do this, they shouldn’t be a leader.
What about you? Are you practicing the principle of Trust and Verify?
All the best,
All the time,