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While browsing through the Leadership section of the Management Today website, I came across this article, which warns against making assumptions in day-to-day life. You can read the full piece for yourself, but basically the author received an invitation to a barbecue and decided to go along, only to discover that the host wasn’t who they thought it was. The moral (and indeed the title) of the story is that you should never assume anything, lest you be punished with awkwardness at best and unpleasantness at worst.

The story was certainly interesting, not to mention amusing, but at first it was somewhat hard to see what any of it had to with leadership. Going to a barbecue, mistaking one acquaintance for another – there’s no real relation to the world of business.

But as it turns out, people who land on that page looking for leadership advice need look no further than the article’s heading. ‘Never assume anything’ isn’t merely a helpful social tip; it’s a crucial rule of thumb for managers and leaders everywhere. The story that Avril Millar relates is just one example of where false assumptions can lead, and one hardly needs to spell out how much higher the stakes are when the situation is business-related.

Good leaders should never make assumptions. Whether it’s assuming that your employees are doing exactly what you expect of them, or assuming that a problem will work itself out given time, you need to stop assuming and start finding out for sure. Listen to what people tell you, and eliminate any ambiguity by asking questions and checking your facts. When your business is on the line, the consequences of a mistaken assumption could be far worse than an awkward evening with a forgotten friend.

If you’re looking to improve your leadership skills, OSR offer a range of Leadership & Development courses that may help. Call 0161 838 5692 to find out more.

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