Why You Should Defer

I recently had a refreshing conversation with a successful business operations manager. He has worked in business operations for years, but the current company he works for is in a field he knows nothing about. He knows business operations well, but freely admitted to me and to many people in the company that he doesn’t really understand what they do at the base level. He said that when his opinion was requested in meetings on something other than operations, he would defer to someone who knew better than him. I heard from another worker at the company that he asked one of the employees to write out a specific procedure in very simple, one sentence steps so that he could understand it. He was an incredibly humble successful middle-aged business man.

He knew himself well. He knew his strengths - that he was really good at operations. But he also knew his weaknesses and was ready to admit them. He didn’t exercise pride in things he didn’t understand, which kept him from potentially mucking up things that weren’t his strength. He instead would defer to experts in those areas.

This is not a new concept. Surely you’ve heard this before - know your strengths, delegate your weaknesses. Still it’s hard to give up your pride and admit you don’t understand things and default to someone who does. But it’s the best way. This business operations manager said that admitting he didn’t know everything and deferring to experts has served him well. I have no doubt that it has. He has been successful because he has sought the best for the business, even if it meant giving up his pride in the process.

Don’t let your pride get in the way. Be willing to defer to experts for the sake of your business.