How And Who Will You Leverage?

If you raise up another person, you are also raising yourself up.

To leverage your team, you need to share your knowledge. In all industries throughout the world, you will always come across people who don’t like to share their knowledge. They are known as “knowledge hoarders” and they make life in the office, depot or work site very difficult for others.

1. Why Insecure Leaders Hoard Their Knowledge

They send a negative message through their team and throughout the organisation. Life can be extremely difficult at work for people who want to learn and grow, as they cannot get access to the knowledge they need to develop themselves. I have come across many people like this throughout my career, and I’m pretty sure you have too.

People who hoard their knowledge do so for 3 reasons:

  1. The love to learn
  2. They are a data snob
  3. They are frightened to give it away

In my experience, I have worked with people from the second and third categories. The industry of engineering where I come from is full of data snobs. They thrive on having far more data than they need. It’s funny, because these data snobs are usually the people who are paranoid and frightened to give their data or knowledge away.

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They want to be seen as specialists by their peers and their leaders. They think that having more data, and information makes them the most valuable assets on the team. However, with highly effective leaders it is the exact opposite that is true.

If a highly effective leader learns something new, they are more than happy to share what they have learned with their team. They do this because it makes themselves and the team more valuable. They are putting the team first, as they can do a lot more with the information than the leader could.

Highly effective leaders know that the more the team knows, the more the team grows. They are deliberate with sharing knowledge, and teaching others to do what they can do.

The reason highly effective leaders share their knowledge is so that the team can perform to their best. The leader wants the team to be at their best at all times, whether the leader is absent or at work. There should be no difference in productivity or attitude of the team, because they are a highly effective team.

Only a secure leader is happy to share their knowledge, as they do not see anyone else as a threat. They only see them as an asset. So, if they share their knowledge, they are improving the asset by developing the team.

Insecure leaders are unhappy to share their knowledge, as they think it will make them weaker. So, with that in mind, the more they know the better it is for them. They are totally focussed on themselves and nobody else in the team.

If they share their knowledge and help the team develop, then they think one of them might threaten their job. So, they do their best to keep the team exactly where they are. They would prefer the team to get weaker, so they are easier for them to control.

Having control of the team is very important for an insecure leader. They want to tell each team member what to do, and how to do it.  They will also give them just the right amount of information to complete the task they have been assigned.

If one of them team learns more than what is expected to complete the job, then the insecure leader will feel very threatened, and start to panic. If they were absent from work one day, an insecure leader would prefer to come back to work with everything gone wrong.

This would be an opportunity for them to fix everything, and make themselves look good. Like they are some sort of superhero. Doing this makes an insecure leader feel important, and feel needed by the organisation.

2. The Difference In Types Of Leaders

Insecure leaders need to be needed. Highly effective leaders need to be succeeded.

Let’s discuss the difference between a leader who likes to share their knowledge and a leader who wants to keep their knowledge to themselves. It is very obvious which leader is more valuable to the organisation.

When I was a performance manager working for Siemens in London, I had the opportunity to replace one of the team who left for a new job. I received a number of internal applications and there were specifically two people who I knew.

I knew how they worked and behaved. They were both really good at what they did, but there was one difference between them.

One of the candidates loved to show his peers that he was a superhero, preferred things to be in chaos so he could save the day. He was a knowledge hoarder and really only thought of himself. He was not interested in sharing his knowledge to help develop his teammates, or anybody else in the engineering department.

He did this so that when he was absent, the rest of the team could not do the same things he could. So, because of this, the team would suffer in certain tasks until he came back into work. He was very selfish with his knowledge.

The other candidate was one for sharing his knowledge and raising people up. He loved to develop himself and learn something new every day. He would then pass on what he learned to the team so they could have the same benefit.

So, when he wasn’t at work, the team were still just as productive because they could do the same things as him. He wasn’t a selfish person and believed in the team, and the organisation.

If you were in my shoes, which candidate would you choose to fill the vacancy in the team? Which candidate would you find the most valuable?

It is a no brainer really. The candidate who loves to share their knowledge and help develop others within their team would get the job.

Now, imagine you were in the situation that your organisation was declining and you needed to let someone go. You are the boss and you had to choose between the two candidates above to let go, who would you choose? Another no brainer.

You would definitely want to hang on to the candidate who shares their knowledge, wants to develop themselves, and help develop the team. They are the most valuable. You would definitely let the candidate who is the knowledge hoarder go.

3. The Mindset Of A Knowledge Hoarder

When I was an apprentice it was my job to go round the different engineering departments, and learn from the best engineers. The company I worked for in Liverpool built the assembly lines that made car engines. Its clients were Ford, Jaguar, Mitsubishi and many others, so it was a huge worldwide company.

However, when I was supposed to be learning from the best engineers, they would hardly show me anything. One of them actually said to me and the other apprentices, “I don’t want you coming out of your apprenticeship and taking my job.” What a very paranoid and insecure attitude he had. It wasn’t just him either, it was most of them.

This obviously came from the leadership. They were constantly telling us that the company was declining, and that we all need to work our hardest to keep our jobs.

A very bad business tactic to have. In the end the company did eventually go under, and we were made redundant. But, the leaders had nobody to blame but themselves for using negative tactics, and making the workforce paranoid.

4. The Benefits Of Sharing Knowledge

When you share knowledge with your team, you are building trust and increasing your influence with them. This is especially true when you share knowledge that they are not required to know. But, you share it with them anyway, because it will help them in their development.

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When you share your knowledge, encourage the team to do the same, and pass on their knowledge to others. By doing this you are leveraging them, and they are then leveraging others, all in your image. With everyone sharing knowledge, everyone is becoming better.

What you are telling the team when you deliberately share your knowledge and help develop them is “I care for you. I want to help you develop and get better. I am looking out for you. You are in my thoughts.”

If you are constantly growing and developing yourself, then you should never see anyone as a threat. You should only see others as assets.

As the leader, you are responsible for the development of your team. It is your job to make them better.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

18 thoughts on “How And Who Will You Leverage?

  1. You hit this nail right on the head. It’s a subject that needs to be talked about because I feel like information hoarding is becoming more prevalent as people try to hang onto their jobs. It’s the act of a desperate and insecure person and they never realize that they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

    While some crafty managers can (for a time) blame their workers for the chaos that ensues while they’re away, it will eventually come back to haunt them.

    Thanks for bringing this out into the light.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      You are right, this subject does need to be talked about more with the right people talking about it.

      Blaming workers will always come back to haunt a manager because it is them who are responsible for everything, not the workers. They need to work on themselves and realise this.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found the article helpful and thank you for bookmarking it.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. You’ve hit the nail right on the head there with the 3 categories of knowledge hoarders. You would be more accepting of a hoarder who’s doing it to learn; leaders who conceal their knowledge in the interest of trying to get the upper-hand on their competition is much less credible and people eventually see through that.

    What I find most infuriating is when you offer someone help on a project and they don’t recognise your efforts, instead they sell it as all their own work.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Hoarders who are learning is a lot more accepting yes. But concealing their knowledge is not acceptable at all. Leaders should be sharing their knowledge.

      People who sell your work as their own is infuriating. I have had this happen to me before on a project, and it was quite a big project.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Hey Tom, what an interesting article! I have also found that when people hoard knowledge it either comes from fear or ego.

    Sharing knowledge is everything when you are leading a team. Empowering people is not only good for the individual but good for the organisation.

    One of the things I loved about the world of network marketing was that the newest recruit would be given access to the knowledge they needed to succeed. Some were off like a rocket (although most didn’t leave the starting gate) but the ethos was that you helped anyone and everyone, even if they were not in your team. I think industry could learn a lot from that world.

    Looking forward to checking out more of your posts.

    Kind regards,

    Jean

    1. Hi Jean,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful. Please do check out my other posts, and leave comment where you can.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the network marketing industry experience you have. Sharing knowledge is a trait of a highly effective leader, and if we have our own team then it is extremely important. As you say, it is not only good for the individual, it is good for the organisation too.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Great article! A true leader is willing to share their knowledge as it will help the overall production of the team. I am well aware that this is taking place but I will never truly understand why. We get farther if we go together!

    1. Hi Chawn,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      We absolutely do go farther if we go together, you are right there. Sharing our knowledge as a leader is so important to ensure our team have everything they need.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Hello, Tom, I like your article. I personally feel a leader who shares his wisdom with this team will have a more successful, confident team in the long run.

    His/her team will also grow in areas you didn’t expect and can broaden the expertise of the overall team, and may even eventually break off into a sub team of folks, which will further enhance your original team.

    Thank you for pointing out the differences between the types of bosses, and the affect they have on the team. I wish you the best success with your awesome site.

    Joanie

    1. Hi Joanie,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m really pleased that you found the article helpful.

      You are absolutely right, sharing our knowledge will help our people grow in different areas, and they can then do the same by sharing their knowledge. By doing that they are growing in ways we never even thought of, which is exactly what I want with my team. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Very timely message. In today’s culture ‘data snobs’ as you call them abound. Once they make it to leadership level it’s too late. 🙂

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you liked the article and that it was timely.

      When the “data snobs” make it to leadership level, what do you think their senior leaders should do to develop them? Or, should they have been developed before they got to the leadership level?

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Great post with many good points about insecure and ineffective Leaders. John Maxwell says, “A Leader with no one following is just someone going for a walk.” I liked the quote: “Insecure leaders need to be needed. Highly effective leaders need to be succeeded”

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you thought the article was great.

      I am a huge fan of John Maxwell, and I know all about that quote you pointed out. He is right, a leader is not a leader unless he has followers.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. This has been a very interesting read Tom. I had never thought about the topic of “knowledge hoarders” before. Now that I have read this, I think it has become easier for me to recognize these kinds of people as well as the truly effective leaders.

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased that you found the article interesting.

      Recognising knowledge hoarders and recognising highly effective leaders is so important.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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