(originally published June 8th, 2005)

I like being correct. I don’t think I’m any different than anyone else in saying this, except there’s many people who don’t want to go on record by saying it. In my zeal to always try to be correct, I always am on guard in making sure that I don’t sound like a know-it-all.

That’s a hard thing to do when you’re a consultant, because people hire consultant’s because we’re supposed to know a lot, and some people think we’re supposed to know it all. Two weeks ago I was participating in a phone conference with one person in the room with me. Something came up and I was asked a question, and I said I didn’t know. I also added that I’d check into it and get back to the person who’d asked the question. Right after the meeting, this woman said that she’d never heard anyone say “I don’t know” before who was in a position like mine, as in kind of an authority position. I said to her that I would be lying if I gave an answer to something without knowing if I were giving a correct answer or not. To me, credibility is more important than someone else’s perception of my knowledge at all times.

There’s never anything wrong with saying you don’t something, as long as you know how to find the answer, if it’s up to you to find that answer. It’s always worse when you lead people astray with what you don’t know. True leaders never lead others down the wrong path on purpose.