I Knew It!

“I knew it!”

How many times have you heard this at the office (or on video call most likely) lately?

As leaders, you may hear things like “I knew it would happen this way!” or “didn’t I tell you it would end like that?” more than your fair share. You may even say them yourself sometimes.

As true as these statements can be though, they reflect 2 major leadership problems. Leaders typically fall prey to either of them:

1. Let’s say something ends in a SNAFU (aka Situation Normal All F….. Up). If you catch yourself saying “I knew it would end like this!”, then, why, as the leader, didn’t you act swiftly before it blew up in your face?

If you knew it, as a leader, you have limited excuses as to why you did not act. Maybe you did say something but your expectations were not set properly. Or you did not establish enough clarity and buy-in from the team.

Reflect on what may have been a more efficient way of setting these expectations to ensure that next time, you won’t need to say “I knew it!”

2. Hindsight bias: Be honest and think twice: At the time a decision was made, did you really know all the exact same facts that you know now? Retrospectively, it is easy to say “I knew it would be like this”, because you know what happened. But at the time you had to make a decision, you did not know what you now know.

This bias is a very powerful disruptor of efficient leadership. For instance, if one of your predictions ends up being realized, you may think that because you got it right once, you will always get it right in the future. It may lead you to overconfidence.

To counter hindsight bias, you need to remind yourself constantly that you just can’t predict the future. And in a rare case where you can – especially if you tell yourself “I have a bad feeling about this”, then go back to point #1 above and do something about it NOW!

Reflect back on past leadership situations. Where have you seen yourself fall for this bias? Where did you just fail to step up to the challenge? What will you do next time you hear someone say “I told you so!”?

For comments or questions, please visit my website or contact me at pascal@p-m-coaching.com