How Successful Businesswomen Use What They Don't Know to Succeed

Nov 25 / Joanne Tica, MATD

In Business, the most successful women often do something unexpected: they are not afraid to admit what they don’t know. This is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it's a strong strategy for growth and success. Let's explore why and how not knowing something can be helpful for businesswomen.

The Benefits of Admitting "I Don't Know"

  1. Learning More: When a leader says they don’t know something, it shows that they are open to learning. This attitude is important for bringing new ideas into a business.

  2. Working Better Together: If a leader admits they don’t know everything, it gives team members a chance to contribute their own skills and ideas. This makes the team work better together.

  3. Making Smarter Decisions: Knowing what you don’t know is important for making good decisions. It helps leaders find the right people to advise them and avoids making mistakes.

How They Do It

  1. Always Learning: Successful businesswomen keep learning new things. They take courses and stay informed about their industry.

  2. Building a Diverse Team: They work with people who have different skills and views. This helps cover areas they don’t know much about and brings new ideas.

  3. Asking Good Questions: These leaders use their lack of knowledge to ask deep questions. This helps them understand things better and find new opportunities.

  4. Learning from Mistakes: They see mistakes as chances to learn. This encourages trying new things, which is important for a business to grow.

Examples of Successful Businesswomen

  1. Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx: Sara started without much knowledge of fashion or retail. Her willingness to learn and ask questions helped her build a very successful brand.

  2. Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo: Indra always talked about the importance of learning and asking questions. This helped PepsiCo adapt and stay successful.

  3. Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble: Whitney's approach to business involves learning and adapting. This has helped make Bumble a big name in the tech industry.

Tips for Embracing Not Knowing

  1. Be Curious: Always be open to new information and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  2. Listen to Different Opinions: Talk to different people to get various perspectives.

  3. Keep Learning: Spend time and resources on learning new things and keeping up with your industry.

  4. It’s Okay Not to Know Everything: Make a work environment where it’s fine to admit you don’t know something and to ask for help.

  5. Think About What You Learn: Think about your experiences, learn from them, and change your plans if needed.


Successful businesswomen understand that admitting what they don't know is not a weakness. It's a way to keep learning and growing. By being okay with not knowing everything, they are better leaders and their businesses do better. This approach might seem unusual, but it's very important for being a good leader and having a successful career in business.

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