Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Importance of Confidence in Responses

I once worked for an aggressive, brilliant CEO that explained this best. He asked me a question during a senior management meeting, and I responded... "Well, sir, I think...". He paused, removed his glasses, then adjusted his posture. He responded that I wasn't paid to think, I was paid to know... and it was my responsibility as a leader to be both confident and honest with my responses. If I wasn't sure, admit I didn't know... and later provide an answer that I could state with confidence.

He went on to explain he'd rather hedge a critical business decision against an unknown risk, than to inaccuratley assume he knew the risk based on potentially flawed information. He reminded me this was a learning opportunity, and one which he did not want to see repeated. It was an interesting "pause" in an otherwise active meeting.

This has stuck with me... and I've applied it to many decisions in my career, and my life. It's better to admit what you don't know, than to make a decision based on an incorrect assumption of fact. If you can't provide an answer quickly with a high degree of confidence, then offer to research and provide an accurate answer. I respected him for this learning opportunity.   I've long moved from the organization. However, the valuable lessons I've learned have continued to influence my actions.