You Don’t Need To Know Everything

I recently took on a new role within Edelman (it’s a good thing, don’t worry), and as a result have begun working with a new team – once again, spread across different offices. Last week, I made a trip down to our DC office to meet with several of them.

You know what I did down there?

I learned.

I sat with each member of the team there and asked them what they did on a day-to-day basis; how they saw themselves within the team; what was going well and what wasn’t, and how I could help them. When they had questions I answered, but in general I said as little as possible and just absorbed.

I found it immensely valuable.

It seems like common sense, but I don’t think many people manage to find the time to make these sorts of meetings happen. To me though, they’re among the most important conversations that I will have in the near future – these are the people I’ll be working with day in, day out; getting to know them, what makes them tick, what they like and dislike and what they need from me will make it a thousand times easier to do my job. Plus, they’re a great group of people who I really like, which makes things even better.

I know that I’m good at what I do. By the same token, I know that my new colleagues are good at what they do, too (really freakin’ good), and that we have a tonne to learn from each other. I certainly didn’t learn everything over the space of a few hours meeting with them, but it’s a start.

What’s more — and critically — through these meetings I let them know that I don’t pretend to know their jobs. I’ll rely on them to educate me and on the leaders of the team to let me know where I’m needed, so I can focus appropriately.

Will I have ideas? Sure. I already do. However, I’m making sure I take the time to make sure that my ideas are grounded in reality and not just flights of fancy, and that I don’t just interfere in things that are working well when there are things that really do need my attention.

My old boss gave me a good piece of advice recently — he said you don’t need to know everything; instead, you need to develop a team around you that you can trust and that can make sure you know everything you need to, so you can help where you’re needed and get out of the way where you’re not.

Good advice.

  • Lindsay Bell

    Well said Dave. I don’t believe you “have to know everything” either. A great team is built on  differing skill sets working together towards the greater good (of the company, campaign, whatever). Bravo for having the courage to admit you ‘don’t know everything.’ And congrats on the new gig!  

  • Good Insight!

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  • kaushik raja

    Vow what a thought provocative article in a very short and
    crisp manner

    1) In general people always want someone to listen to them
    rather than being a listener. As u rightly said in this fast moving world there
    are very few listeners. And listing to someone will always help in building
    trust

    2) Pretending to know something will stop us from learning

     3) It is also about
    having right set of people around us at the right time.

    • Very true, Kaushik – I especially agree with point #3 – it’s easy to be good, but to be *better* you need to surround yourself with other good people.

  • Congratulations on the new role! 🙂 Looking forward to more great insight from what you’re learning in the new position!

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