Merge's Blog

Leadership literacy is essential; ignorance is unacceptable

leadership literacyLeaders have a responsibility to be literate.  And by the word “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.  Now that information is ubiquitous, available through our fingertips at the closest keyboard, twenty-four seven, there is no longer any reason to claim that you don’t know.  Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.  But real leadership literacy also requires critical thinking.  It is possible to tell the difference between genuine data and pseudo-science; between real facts and false news.  It requires however that you read beyond the headlines and evaluate the sources and the author.  It is possible to appreciate and comprehend the people you work with.  But that means that you need to make the effort and take the time to get to know them.  Leadership literacy is not only essential, it is completely achievable.

5 Rules of 21st Century Leadership Literacy

With this cautionary counsel in mind, here are five rules of 21st century leadership literacy that every leader should follow:

  1. If you don’t understand what a word or phrase means, look it up.  You know, Google it.
  2. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, take the time to get to know them in advance on LinkedIn.  You know, on the Internet.
  3. If it’s something your company sells or provides, then learn how it is made or delivered.  Talk to the experts in your company.  Ask questions, listen to the answers.
  4. If it’s important to your employees, find out why and how.  Talk to your people.  Ask questions, listen to the answers.
  5. Before “sharing” information as truth, research it. Confirm that it comes from reliable peer-reviewed sources.  Verify it at Snopes or RationalWiki or FactCheck.  Then spread it around on social media.

If you’re a leader, then literacy is a prerequisite; ignorance is unacceptable.  So look it up.  Ask questions.  Find out more.  Check your biases and verify information.

Leadership literacy.  Too simple?  Or did I get it right?  As always, I would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

7 thoughts on “Leadership literacy is essential; ignorance is unacceptable

  1. Hi Merge. If you don’t mind, I’m going to take your topic here in a bit of a different direction and welcome your comments. I love what you wrote here. “Literate, ” I mean knowledgeable. And, Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.

    I recently completed a 2 Day Training Program with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Region. “CMHA Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor Training.” The Training itself prepared the attendees like myself to reach out to employers and increase their awareness of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace… through conversations with employers.
    – Knowledge/Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse –

  2. In addition, do not give an excuse to yourself or to others that due to an advanced age, you can not learn new things. Be assured that you are expected to learn up to your last breath.

    1. Agreed! I always tell leaders in my client organizations that they must expect their employees, ALL their employees, no matter what age, to continue to learn. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind! Thanks for your insight Arun.

  3. You make some good points about critical thinking. Fortunately more schools are teaching critical thinking to students as a way of educating them how to examine and try and understand the difference between fake news and real science. Being able to think critically is not only a valuable life skill it is, as you say, a valuable leadership skill too. Thanks!

    1. That is indeed excellent news Lesley. This needs to be taught to people at a young age so that they can carry this important life skill into adulthood. I am constantly taken aback by the number of otherwise reasonably intelligent individuals who lose their ability to think critically when faced with some of pseudo-science conspiracy theories that are floating around on the Internet.

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