Getting comfortable saying, “I don’t know…yet”

publishedabout 1 year ago
2 min read

Dear Reader,

I never thought I could be a leader when I was a kid.

I felt a leader was a great public speaker, had all the correct answers, had to tell people what to do, was focused on perfecting their skills… and it didn’t help they were all men, and I wasn’t.

As I grew up, the world did too. Those "leadership" qualities that might have worked for my grandparents began to soften.

Today, leadership is more human-centered. Our jobs as leaders are to create environments that make it easier for people to perform at their best.

To become a human-centered leader, you must become a better facilitator. Facilitative leaders can be introverts or extroverts. One thing we all have in common is being uncomfortable when unsure how to move forward.

When facilitating workshops, you plan for specific outcomes, but you’re open to different possibilities. This means you have to be comfortable with ambiguity.

The same goes for leaders. You'll need to help your team make calculated risks.

Let's look at how we can build our comfort level with ambiguity.

Comfort with Ambiguity

What is Ambiguity? It’s being open to more than one interpretation.

The goal here is not to remove ambiguity but to get more comfortable with it and find ways to get more confident about what we know and don't know.

As designers, we work all the time without having all the information. We develop new ideas and push forward with one solution idea…but there could be 30 other ways to solve any problem.

And thank god there isn't always one correct answer, or an algorithm would probably take all of our jobs.

How to get comfortable with ambiguity

  • Zooming in and out - Make sure you go back and forth between looking at the larger context and the details.
  • Identify known and unknowns - List what your team knows and doesn't know. Then go and find out more information on the unknowns.
  • Start saying "I don't know…yet" - Practice saying "I don't know…yet" and follow up with questions that help clarify more information we need to discover.
  • Switch from "should" to "could" - Try changing from where you narrow the possibilities by using the word "should, to where you open up room for more ideas to be possible using "could."

How to Lead with Facilitation

Last night, I gave a master class on How to Lead with Facilitation. I went over two other skills that help you become a facilitative leader, suspended judgment and active listening. I'll share the cheat sheets with you here.

If you want more detail on how to improve in either of these areas, check out the recording from last night's class.

Until next week!

Hannah Baker
Educator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute

P.S. You can prototype tomorrow’s leadership skills by facilitating workshops today.

Level up your facilitating workshop skill now with our new FREE short course.

Click here to get the FREE 7-day Facilitating Workshops Course emailed to you→

The Fountain Institute

The Fountain Institute is an independent online school that teaches advanced UX & product skills.

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