If you’re a leader then you undoubtedly know the dangers inherent in assuming. Yet, if you’re like too many leaders you assume your assumptions are correct. It’s other people’s assumptions that you worry about.
We need to look no further than the politics of the day to see how that works out. Assuming your “side” is correct just because it’s your “side” is a terrible mistake. No matter how “firm” your assumption may be thinking something doesn’t make it so.
Assumptions, especially assuming you are right because you’re the leader, makes it hard to adjust to the changing environment around you. That kind of assuming makes it hard for new ideas to see the light of day. That kind of assuming will extinguish even the most creative minds in your organization. That kind of assuming kills innovation.
When a leader hangs onto assumptions, whatever those assumptions are based on, they close off their minds to all kinds of possibilities. Their mantra becomes some version of “we have always done it that way” or “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Their people “learn” not to question the leader’s assumptions. That’s when trust in the organization’s leadership goes out the door. Morale and productivity go down and turnover goes up.
Leaders must abandon all assumptions, especially their own if they hope to grow their people and their organization.
It’s likely if you’ve been in a leadership position and done reasonably well with it that you’re thinking you don’t make assumptions. But that in itself is an assumption because your day is likely full of assumptions. You think it’s not because if you’re like most people you never slow down long enough to realize how much stuff you ”know” is actually just an assumption.
You assume your people understand you and that you understand them. You often assume you know what motivates them. You assume they trust you. You may even assume they are actually following you.
Stop assuming and find out.
Find out by asking questions. Find out by investing the time required to truly know and understand your people. Find out by watching and working with them. Get out from behind that fancy desk and interact daily with the people you lead.
Don’t assume anything. EVER! Most of all don’t assume to know more than you do simply because you hold a spot higher on an organizational chart than somebody else.
Assumptions kill. Don’t let them kill you or your success.