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Being a boss is a challenge. It always has been and always will be. When you’re at the helm of an organisation people look up to you. They expect you to set the direction of travel for the organisation and to guide it through the ups and downs.

But here’s the thing: it’s okay not to know everything. You might think that’s a strange thing to say. The boss is in charge. They’re the top man (or woman) and it’s part of their job to be fully aware of everything to do with the organisation, right? Well, yes and no.

You’ll face loads of situations where you might not know about something in an organisation. If you do, don’t worry about it – we’re all human and it goes without saying you’ll probably come a cropper at least once because you’re not as knowledgeable about one area as another.

Facing that moment of uncertainty is daunting. You want to show you’re the right person to lead the organisation, but admitting you don’t know something could be seen as a sign of weakness. What do you do?

First of all relax. Don’t stress about it. Many of the world’s most respected CEOs and leaders will have been in this situation lots of times and got through it. Think Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! She got things badly wrong with the direction of her organisation, but is still highly-respected as a great CEO. Plus she’s worth a cool $430m (according to her Wikipedia page).

Leaders like Marissa recognise that it’s okay to not always know everything, but still show really strong leadership. They’re more than likely to have a mind-set where they know they can’t be a master of everything first time around, and sometimes it can take time to get to grips with tasks. Once they understand that, it’s much easier to come to terms with.

If you’re really great at most of the other the bits of your job, people will see you wanting to learn as one of the reasons you’re such a top leader when you admit you’re not as up to speed as they are. They’ll also feel pretty good at showing you something you don’t know and helping you become even greater. They’ll also appreciate your honesty.

The smartest leaders also know when to defer to those who are more knowledgeable than them. High-performing organisations get that way because they have the right people in the right jobs, and adapt a ‘They’re the experts, so use them’ attitude. Allowing people to have a degree of accountability will make them more confident and empowered to make the right decision most of the time as they know you trust them to do a great job.

These same smart leaders also understand the importance of communication, so they keep in regular contact with the various heads of department to keep a handle on the important issues in their organisation, particularly if it’s a larger organisation where it’s impossible to know everything.

Life’s a journey of discovery where you constantly learn from experiences. It would be dull if we were born with the same level of knowledge we have in old-age. And the same is true of being a leader – you don’t come into the job knowing all there is to know about everything.

So next time you don’t know what someone’s talking about, or you’re not quite sure about something, don’t worry. It really is okay not to know everything.