The Strength in Not Knowing: Embracing Innovative Thinking

In leadership, strength lies in embracing the unknown. Innovation flourishes when leaders admit they don’t have all the answers and are open to new ideas. By challenging assumptions and fostering continuous learning and safe experimentation, leaders inspire creativity and drive meaningful change.

The Strength in Not Knowing: Embracing Innovative Thinking
Note: Every month we will have a theme - so you can integrate this "e-coaching" into your development or that of your team. Last month was Career Planning and Management. This month it's Innovation and Innovation as a Leader.

In the world of leadership and innovation, there exists a paradoxical truth: strength often lies in what leaders don’t see, and innovative thinking requires a willingness to embrace the unknown. It’s about being comfortable with not knowing, as this state of uncertainty opens the door to discovery and breakthroughs.

As leaders, we are conditioned to value knowledge and expertise. We often believe that having all the answers and a clear roadmap is synonymous with effective leadership. However, true innovation flourishes in the realm of ambiguity and curiosity. It thrives when leaders are willing to admit they don’t have all the solutions but are eager to explore and learn along the way.

One key aspect of this approach is cultivating a mindset of openness. Leaders must be open to new ideas, diverse perspectives, and unconventional solutions. By letting go of preconceived notions and embracing a beginner’s mindset, they create space for creativity and innovation to flourish within their teams and organizations.

Innovative thinking requires a departure from the comfort of familiarity. It demands a willingness to challenge assumptions, experiment with different approaches, and even fail spectacularly at times. 

Leaders who are not afraid to navigate uncharted territory inspire their teams to push boundaries and think outside the box.

Moreover, the strength in not knowing fosters a culture of continuous learning. When leaders acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers, they encourage a growth mindset among their teams. This culture empowers individuals to seek knowledge, experiment with new ideas, and learn from both successes and setbacks.

An example of this principle in action can be seen in the story of many successful entrepreneurs. They often start with a simple idea and embark on a journey full of uncertainties. What sets them apart is not their initial knowledge but their willingness to embrace the unknown, adapt to challenges, and pivot when necessary. This same principle applies to leaders in any field who strive to drive meaningful change and innovation.

To cultivate this strength in not knowing, leaders can adopt several practical strategies. Firstly, they can actively seek out diverse viewpoints and encourage constructive dissent within their teams. This helps challenge conventional thinking and promotes innovative solutions. Secondly, leaders should create a safe environment where failure is seen as a stepping stone to success rather than a dead-end. This mindset shift encourages risk-taking and experimentation.

Additionally, leaders can invest in continuous education and skill development. By staying curious and hungry for knowledge, they model the importance of lifelong learning to their teams. Lastly, leaders should prioritize building networks and collaborations beyond their immediate industry or expertise. This cross-pollination of ideas often leads to breakthrough innovations that wouldn’t have been possible within siloed thinking.

In conclusion, the strength of a leader lies not only in what they know but also in their comfort with the unknown. Embracing innovative thinking requires a mindset shift—a willingness to not have all the answers and to explore uncharted territories. By cultivating this strength in not knowing, leaders can inspire creativity, drive meaningful change, and pave the way for a more innovative future.


At the heart of innovation is understanding creative thinking as the foundation. Make sure you access the book Brain on Fire: Unleashing Your Creative Superpowers in The Distinct Leader Library (free to subscribers) or you can pick up the paperback on Amazon.

And as always, you can book a full-day workshop - a ton of fun and great approach to team building or an introduction through a virtual Lunch & Learn - just email me to get started (

Coming Soon: A brand new handbook on integrating innovation in Leadership - Stay tuned on how to get access!