Do Leaders Need to Know…Everything?

May 11, 2018

Can we ever expect managers to have all the answers? In his latest blog, Tim discusses why we can’t.

By Tim Frear

As an HR Manager who manages a team of professionals and has worked as part of a senior executive team, I’m regularly asked questions outside the scope of my knowledge. As I sit here looking at employment law precedence (so I’m able to respond effectively to a client), I wonder if the people we believe in, really have all the answers.

A little while ago I was reading a report in the Harvard Business Review about hospitals run by doctors. The report said that these hospitals are ranked as the best in the US. I like the thought, but I don’t really believe you need to know everything about the industry you’re in, in order to achieve amazing results. The report detailed that staff in hospitals run by doctors were more motivated and had a better trust in the leadership team, compared to those managed by regular managers.

Technical competence is essential, especially in HR where the law governs advice and practice, but I believe if you have the right leaders in the right place around you with the required technical competence, there’s no need to know everything.Plus, we’re in a technical age where the answers can be found online.

Whenever I think about knowing everything I think of Professor Hawking and Richard Branson, as I don’t know anything about physics, I tend to look at Richard Branson more! He is an amazing leader who empowers his leadership team to achieve great results. Are we to say he has the technical competence in banking to run Virgin Bank, or the technical expertise to run Virgin Trains, Atlantic, Voyages or even the knowledge of space to run Virgin Orbit? Unlikely! He has made his fortune by having the right people in the right places.

I regularly have meetings with business owners and MDs who need assistance recruiting the best talent. These people have a vision, understand their values and want the right person who can motivate, and are technical savvy leaders. Why are they wanting this? To grow their business and ensure the organisation has the technical expertise in the right places.

This all leads me back to my initial thought; do we really need to know everything? My conclusion is no. Although I have an HR Degree and an Employment Law Paralegal degree, I truly believe if you have a good grounding, understand your team and know how to harness their technical expertise (or can find the right answer for the right situation), you’re on the right track!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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