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The Elite Performer: You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Andy W. Harris
Jul 13, 2016

Humility is one of the most difficult traits, but also one of the most powerful ones. If you are in a position of influence to your clients or especially in a leadership role this is important. Thinking you know all of the answers can lead to questions later about how you came to fail. The worst part about not knowing something is that you truly don’t know what you don’t know. This means you either accept you won’t have all the answers by seeking them or to deny that humility and combine ignorance with arrogance. The latter is not a good combination for any professional or business leader.

Many times, leaders will feel as though they must have all the answers to effectively lead a team or influence others. The problem is that if they don’t have the right answers or provide inaccurate information, then this is not leading, it’s misleading. To lead employees or clients effectively, one must always be open-minded and seek new information. Problem solving and getting the right answer upfront requires effort, but can avoid additional work or problems later. Failure is often a result of being hard-headed and blocking the idea that there may be another way or a better way of doing things.

A humble and selfless leader will be the best leader. Admitting when you are wrong by taking responsibility and accountability, as well as holding others accountable, produces the most innovative and effective ways to lead. Embrace the unknown and take on challenges with an outside perspective. Seek answers and lead by supporting from the bottom rather than from the top. True respect is developed in leaders who can embrace humility and not being a “know-it-all.” This is a strong reminder for all of us including myself.

You must step outside your business in order to look in. Use a macro approach when seeking information versus a micro approach between the walls of your office. Your employees or your clients will be very thankful that you do.

Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and past president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431, e-mail or visit

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

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