The Arrogance of "Know-it-all" Business Owners

Who Think They Know it ALL, Proves They Often DON’T (Know It All!)
Today’s post comes to you from a place of great personal PAIN for me.  I will share with you my lifelong love of my favorite NFL team and the business owner who thinks he knows it all…and proves he DOESN’T on a nearly daily basis.
But before I get to that, let me start by saying as a business coach and strategy consultant, I see the harmful impact that a business owner, leader or management team  who thinks she/he knows everything can have on their organization’s performance.  WE ALL HAVE BLIND SPOTS.  There are things we simply don ‘t (can’t) know, and are NOT an expert in.
For 20 years working in Corporate America and now in my work with business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups I have witnessed first-hand how business owners who refuse to admit they can benefit from the help of peers, co-workers, direct reports, suppliers, vendors, contractors AND THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS damage their organizations.
Which takes me to my Team…America’s Team…YES, the DALLAS COWBOYS!
I realize that just mentioning my life-long love for my team might alienate a LOT of people.  But I take you to the world of Jerry Jones, in an effort to prove to you how bad things happen to organizations led by people who refuse to admit they don’t know everything and could benefit from the expertise of others.
Jerry first made his millions in natural gas and oil.  He’s gotten rich on SPECULATION.  He bought my team in 1989 for $150 million and appointed himself the General Manager.  What qualifications did he possess?  Well, he DID play college football at Arkansas in the 1960s so I guess that could lead him to think of himself as a “Football Man.”
He initiated his team ownership by in effect firing a revered coach (Tom Landry) and in his place hired unproven college coach Jimmy Johnson thinking he would be able to control Jimmy.  He then placed his son Stephen (now VP of Operations) in a significant role DESPITE his son having ZERO qualifications proving nepotism beats on the job experience.
Long story short, the team traded their aging star Herschell Walker to  the Vikings who turned over to the Cowboys a large number of draft picks in the hope that Herschell Walker was the final piece their team needed to get to the Super Bowl (he wasn’t and they didn’t!)   Jimmy then used his college football coaching connections in Florida (he coached at the University of  Miami) to use those Viking draft picks to rebuild the team’s roster with future stars like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.  The team  experienced immediate success by winning 3 of 4 Super Bowls from 1992-1995.  Jerry’s ego which was fueled by such rapid success led Jimmy to leave.  All that early success as owner and General Manager led Jerry to think he knew everything about NFL football success.
It was the delusion of his exceptional narcissism that led him to believe falsely that he had an understanding of what it took to achieve greatness.  He has refused to admit he was the beneficiary of many unprecedented events (a perfect storm.)  In the process he alienated Jimmy Johnson who eventually left Dallas.  Since Jimmy’s departure the team has suffered through a steady turn-over in head coaches, coaching staffs, and players that have collectively gotten the team (MY TEAM) a total of ONE playoff victory in SEVENTEEN YEARS.
Sure Jerry Jones has grown the team’s worth to $3 billion over the past two plus decades.   This just goes to prove that he is the consummate snake oil salesman…NOT an NFL General Manager.
To THIS day Jerry Jones refuses to admit that he and the team would benefit from him giving up his General Manager responsibilities.
The lessons learned to any business owner who wants their organization to succeed could not be any clearer.  None of us know everything.  Those who are mature enough to seek advice and counsel from others who have expertise often benefit from the additional insights provided.  By giving up control and tapping into others’ collective skills, well-adjusted leaders can spend time focusing on developing a long-term vision that they need, to grow their business.
In order to succeed, it takes great personal, professional and business maturity.  You have to willingly and actively seek others’ help in the areas you don’t possess expertise in, whether you are the head of a multinational corporation, a not-for-profit organization, a Government, or…an NFL team.
This is why I urge my clients to seek out coaches and mentors, and ask lots of questions as they are planning their business. Talk to other entrepreneurs and start-ups especially people in your own industry.  Talk to vendors, suppliers, contractors, potential customers and people who work in the industry.  Learn as much as you can.  And once you launch your business, KEEP SEEKING COUNSEL from the people that have the desire and expertise needed to help you.  Another good idea is to take a skills inventory or personal assessment, to determine areas that you are strong in as well as the areas that you might benefit from enlisting the help of others.
You can get my Entrepreneur Self-Assessment from my website.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.