Journal logo

The Curse Of Knowledge In Leadership

Why Knowledge Usually Works Against Leaders

By Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.Published about a month ago 6 min read

Help Change The World With Your Vote! Read to the End to see How this Impacts The Planet!


One of the Largest Fears that Leaders have is that they must Know Everything.

They have to Know how to Solve Every Problem.

They have to Know how to Handle People.

They have to Know every System for Success.

They have to Know the Perfect Plan.

There is a significantly larger list than this of course, but are any of these True?

Interestingly enough, as I've Coached Leaders over the years, I have come to discover something very interesting.

Usually, Leaders who Know More end up Struggling to Lead well.

However, Leaders who at least Appear to Know Less end up Significantly Better.

Why is this?

How could it be that Knowledge could be a Curse for Leaders, yet Lack of Knowledge could be a seeming Blessing?

Well, let's look into that a bit more closely.

There is a lot that is going on in situations like this.

The first is that when Leaders "Feel" they need to Know "More", they are at a Major Disadvantage Psychologically.

When it comes to the Brain in this Situation, a few things are Directly working Against Leaders.

The Reality we must come to Accept is that we are Human, which means it is "Literally" Impossible for Any of Us to Know "Everything".

Even AI, with its ability to see most of the Information on the Internet, Struggles to Comprehend that using Glue to make Cheese Adhere to a Pizza is "Not" an Acceptable Solution.

If an AI cannot get things Correct with Incredible Access to Information, more Information than most Humans could ever Comprehend in their Lifetime, How Could We Expect Ourselves to Know Everything?

When we Feel we Need to Know More, we fall into a Psychological Trap of Never "Being Enough".

This plays into another Problem when it comes specifically to being a Leader.

An expectation of a Leader is to "Lead", and if we Feel we Do Not Know "Enough", it triggers a Stressor that We Will Become "Rejected" by the Group.

From a Survival Perspective, Group Rejection in our ancestors' lives would likely mean death.

Though this generally is Not True in today's world, often our Bodies still respond "as if" it were True.

So, this creates a Challenge for Leaders as this Natural Psychological Fear ends up becoming a Stressor, which we generally have too many of in the world.

When we have too many Stressors simultaneously, it can quickly become a Road to Burnout.

So, "Believing" we Need to Know More, regardless of whether it is True or Not, often pushes Leaders into Burnout.

This then further blocks Flow States, Creative Problem Solving, Innovation, Productivity, and more.

As Leaders, these Challenges end up making the Role of being a Leader significantly More Difficult from the beginning.

Then, there is the Habit Problem.

See, whatever we Consistently Do ends up Becoming a Habit.

When we Establish a Habit, it is Easier to Do that Habit than it is to Not Do that Habit.

It is Possible to Create a Mindset Habit.

So, that means that when we Believe We Do Not Know Enough, that can become a Habit, and we begin to "Always" Believe We Do Not Know Enough!

I'm sure you can see how this would be Extremely Problematic!

However, there is also a different Perspective to consider with this.

What about the People who are On Your Team?

What happens to them when a Leader Knows "Everything"?

Well, there are Multiple Issues that are created.

The first is, just as We inherently Know we can Never Know Everything, so does Everyone else!

Your Team already Knows You're Human, which means they Know You Will Never Know Everything!

However, when you begin to Act like you Know Everything, you come off the Wrong Way.

In a "Best Case" Scenario (which is rare), they Feel Bad for You, always trying to become something you can never be.

That Feeling itself is not Productive.

However, more commonly, Leaders end up coming off as... to put it mildly... Narcissistic Jerks Who Micromanage Everyone.

While that may Not be True, often when Leaders Believe they Must Know Everything, it is how others Perceive them.

In Life, Perception "Becomes" Reality.

If you are Perceived as a Narcissistic Jerk Who Micromanages Everyone, your Team will Act as if you are.

As you can Imagine, this Creates a Toxic Work Environment.

Plus, People "Want" to Feel Wanted.

They "Want" to Contribute.

They "Want" to Feel Like They Provide Value.

When the Leader "Knows" Everything, it doesn't allow anyone on their Team to Feel Wanted, Allow them to Contribute, or Feel they Provide Value.

Often this Creates a Situation where the Leader ends up "Doing" all the Work because the Team "Knows" the Leader wants it done "Their" way.

If this goes on long enough, it also ends up creating a Team dominated by Learned Helplessness.

They Feel "Helpless" to Change Anything because they are being Prevented by the Leader's "Need" to Know Everything.

This Learned Helplessness then "Forces" the Leader to Actually "Need" to Know Everything to get things done, which we've Established is Impossible because We Are Human.

This then Creates a Predictably Losing Team.

What about Leaders who Do Not Know Everything?

First, I want to point out that there is a difference between Not Knowing Everything, and Being Clueless.

Being Clueless is never good for a Leader, and this is the Extreme that most Leaders Hope to Avoid when they switch to Seeking to "Know Everything".

However, both Extremes are Detrimental.

You want to be Competent as a Leader, but Realistic that you Don't Know Everything "Because" You Are Human.

What Happens to Leaders when they are Here?

Well, first you no longer have to Fight the Stressor mentioned at the beginning.

Since Everyone Knows You're Human, You can Rest Easy that you will Never be Rejected for Being Human!

Further than this though, what becomes Beneficial is that "Knowing" that you Do Not Know Everything creates a Beneficial Desire that you Seek Others who "Know Better".

It helps us overcome the Myth of Independence so that we can become Interdependent with Our Teams.

Which then Allows our Teams to Truly "Give" Input.

When this happens, they Feel Wanted on the Team, Feel they have something to Contribute, and Feel like they Give Value.

It Provides the Groundwork for a Real Team!

This is Why, as a Leader, it is both Alright and Ideal to Know Less!


Want to Change The World?

I am on a mission to show that when "We" work together, We "Can" Change The World!

There is currently a competition for Mr. Health and Fitness 2024 with a prize of $20,000.

Which is How "You" Help Change The World!

I have plans to use 100% of the Prize to support 3rd Party Verified Projects around the World that address the Most Critical Ecosystem Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At a minimum, my Goal is to accomplish:

  • 10,000 m2 of Habitats Protected for Critically Endangered Species
  • 56,000 Plastic Bottles Removed from Our Oceans
  • 500,000 m2 of Coral Reef Restoration
  • 1,000,000 Miles of Car Emissions Removed

However, I can "only" do this with "Your" Help!

Together, we can accomplish Incredible things in the World, and I want to show Everyone the Power of that!

I humbly ask you to join me, and Vote to Make the World Better!

This is what you can do:

If you are even considering helping, I truly appreciate you, and I know you have so much Potential to Change the World!

workflowwall streetVocalvintagequotesproduct reviewpop culturelistindustryhumanityhow tohistoryheroes and villainsfeatureeconomycareerbusiness warsbusinessadvice

About the Creator

Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.

Creator of the Multi-Award-Winning Category "Legendary Leadership" | Faith, Family, Freedom, Future | The Legendary Leadership Coach, Digital Writer (500+ Articles), & Speaker


[email protected]

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (2)

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    I always prefer people who can admit that they don't know something than someone who pretends to know everything. More people should know that it is okay to say, "I'm sorry but I don't have much information about [insert topic], but I'll do my research and get back to you".

  • Ricardo de Moura Pereiraabout a month ago

    This article is so true

Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.Written by Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.