Smart leaders are careful not to act like know-it-alls

    Ambitious executives often act like they know everything. In hindsight, some professed know-it-alls say they didn’t realize how little they knew about getting ahead.

    As The Wall Street Journal reports, almost everyone has run into this breed of boss or colleague: They typically exclude others from decisions, cut off opportunities for collaboration, dominate meetings and resist criticism.

    Know-it-alls behave this way to inspire confidence and avoid looking weak, according to leadership coaches and workplace researchers.

    Know-it-all behavior “is the biggest flaw I see in people who are not successful,” says James Kilts, a Pfizer Inc. director and former CEO of Gillette Co. Yet asking for advice “is never a sign of weakness,” he says.

    Vik Verma, chief executive of 8×8 Inc., a cloud-based communications provider based in San Jose, California, says he used to pretend he had all the answers to avoid appearing vulnerable, but after he lost millions in a poor deal, he started a new system. He began requiring management position candidates to call him an idiot during interviews and point out something he was doing wrong with the company.  

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