You don’t wonder what a know-it-all thinks even though a little mystery would be nice.
Know-it-alls close their minds and open their mouths.
- Knows how to belittle you.
- Defends their opinion with emotion, not research.
- Increases volume when confronted.
- Expects compliance.
- Rejects other perspectives without consideration.
- Irritates and drains competent team members.
- Coerces timid people.
3 ways to lead a know-it-all:
#1. Ask questions:
- How did you come to that conclusion?
- What makes you say that?
- How has that worked in the past?
- What could go wrong if we do that?
- What are other ways to look at this?
- What resistance will come up if we go with your suggestion?
- How will this help the people we are serving? (In the short-term. In the long-term.)
- Ask, “And what else would you suggest?”
- Say, “If you were the customer, what questions would you be asking?”
- How does your suggestion fulfill our mission? (Know-it-alls tend to think in short-term solutions.)
#2. Determine if it matters to you:
If it doesn’t matter to you, let them talk. Excuse yourself or avoid them.
#3. Lead the conversation:
After someone offers input, ask a closed-minded person to summarize their position.
Lower their brilliant idea to a good suggestion. “Thanks for your suggestion. What other ideas do you have?”
Set expectations. “I’m gathering several suggestions before making a decision. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.”
Cut them off before they speak. Suppose Bob is a blabbering windbag. Begin team conversations with a person’s name. “Mary, what suggestions do you have?”
Don’t let windbags believe their suggestions are decisions.
- Some intellectual gasbags respect confidence. “Thanks for your suggestion. That’s not going to happen. I’m open to other ideas.”
- Don’t allow ego to control response. Trying to put a fathead in their place is self-defeating.
What suggestions do you have for leading know-it-alls?
A note to readers:
This post is the continuation of “5 people who drive leaders nuts.”
- Know-it-all owls.
- Get-it-done squirrels.
- Cautious possums.
- Quiet sheep.
- Social butterflies.
10 Marks of Learn-it-all Leaders
How to Deal with a Know-It-All at Work
By Dan Rockwell