Very few, if any, leaders are experts in every single necessity of leadership. That is why great leaders surround themselves with an inner circle of trusted advisers. However, in order for someone to act as a true leader, he must have enough knowledge and wisdom to be able to make judgments in a timely basis, by being able to evaluate facts, opinions, and situations.
For this reason, the greatest leaders always have lots of general knowledge, as well as often having specialized expertise in certain valuable and essential areas. Blaise Pascal summed thus up in this way, “Since we cannot know all that there is to ne known about anything, we ought to know a little about everything.”
1. General knowledge is a requirement for effective leadership. How can anyone have any possibility of being successful and effective if he does not have the where- with- all to comprehend all the facts that may be involved?
Being a leader is often a rather complicated endeavor, requiring specialized skills. Obviously, different individuals have different areas of expertise.
It is absurd to expect that any leader will know everything about everything, but it is essential that they all exhibit well more than average general knowledge, along with an open mind to listen effectively, and be able to evaluate facts, figures and opinions, and to make the inevitable and timely decision.
2. What types of people are needed to be part of a meaningful and valuable inner circle of advisers? These individuals must have expertise in various and divergent areas, with all anticipated needs covered by someone’s expertise.
A leader needs not agree with the advice but must be certain and feel comfortable that the advice being given is agenda- free, and someone’s honest opinion and preference. It is even more important that this group not be composed simply of yes- men, but rather people who have the self- confidence and integrity to express their opinions, without fear or trepidation.
All members of this committee or group must agree to a confidentiality pact, so that they can express their opinions openly without having to worry how an opinion may be construed out of context. Regardless of the opinions of this group, the responsibility to make the final decision and take timely action falls exclusively on the shoulders of the leader.
An inner circle is not an excuse for leaders to defer personal responsibility, and true leaders use their general knowledge and personal strengths to make meaningful decisions.
There is never only one factor to consider for great leadership. However, unless someone has far better than average overall/ general knowledge combined with inner strength, determination and personal integrity, an organization will suffer.