Don’t forget to share what you don’t know

Those who work with me know that I give a LOT of feedback.

Most of it unsolicited.

Since I have the privilege of working with smart engineers, many [most] of whom are introverts, my feedback is often the same: speak up more.

In most cases, it’s as simple as being more willing to speak and tell people what you know.


In some cases, I find that people also get tripped up wanting to wait until they know to speak.  This is not really a bad idea.  Speaking about stuff you no nothing about, can certainly be problematic for your brand.

So why in the world would I think it’s important to talk about stuff you don’t know?

Here is the difference.  When you are a leader your team often cannot wait for you to know everything.  The absence of communication, leaves them in the lurch.  It creates stress, since they are not sure what to do next.

So what do you do when you need to speak and you don’t know what to say?

Here is where you need to tap into your authentic self and share what you do not know.  Let people know that you are not yet sure, but that you are working it out.  Give them the confidence that you are not unaware of, or ignoring the issue.

Often that extra step of communicating your own process, will help ease the strain and give people the confidence in you.  It also opens the line of communication for them to help.    People do not expect their leaders to have all the answers, but they do expect their leaders to be straight with them.

I challenge you to start sharing what you don’t know with your team and let us know the results.  I think you will be surprised to find out how much help you might have been missing, by trying to do it all on your own.

Don’t even think it

This isn’t a post about being mindful or even about how our thoughts control our energy and our energy controls our actions.

Those would be great posts.

This is a post about how people can read your thoughts.

Sadly not the way you need them to.

To get someone over to your way of thinking you still need to master the Jedi mind tricks and no, unless your a moron, they probably didn’t notice you had those thoughts.

What they did notice is what you think about them, as a person.

This is biologically hard-wired stuff.  Humans are exceptional at reading faces and we take in even very subtle data to help us understand each other.  In practical terms, this means that people know when you dislike them and they certainly know when you don’t respect them.

The solution is not really to get better at hiding your annoyance or dislike, but instead, find something to like.  Looking at people as a whole, instead of just in the current context, is a good place to start.

Maybe they have entirely different strengths than you do, maybe they see things differently.  Opening yourself up to understanding different points of view and different sets of strengths, will help a lot, in making you the effective leader you want  to be.

Or, barring that, try to do more conference calls with those who annoy you [while finding your happy place], to avoid having to meet them face to face.  Whatever you need to do to keep the judgment  from your thoughts, is worth the investment.

Let’s just say, that I know how the story ends if you get this wrong, and it’s far from happy.

I wish you all good thoughts for this wonderful long weekend.


Oh, and to the waitress who handed my 4 year old an extra large glass of strawberry lemonade with no lid, I apologize for not remembering my own advice!

To learn: get a mentor, to get ahead: get a sponsor

As can happen, in reading about women and diversity I manage to find good tips for everyone.

The topic today is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor

To summarize:

A mentor will help you become a better you, a sponsor will help you get ahead.

I first got a clue about this reading an excellent post from Lynn Harris where she nets out this exact point.

A sponsor is more than a mentor. Sponsors make introductions to the right people, facilitate career moves and guide you through the unwritten rules of organizational life.

Today I noticed another juicy article in HBR entitled Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women

All mentoring is not created equal, we discovered. There is a special kind of relationship—called sponsorship—in which the mentor goes beyond giving feedback and advice and uses his or her influence with senior executives to advocate for the mentee. Our interviews and surveys alike suggest that high-potential women are over-mentored and under-sponsored relative to their male peers—and that they are not advancing in their organizations. Furthermore, without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles but may also be more reluctant to go for them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m personally using this information to redefine what kind of help I’m getting for my own career goals.


The Cornell Bear is intended to make Amy laugh.