Stop Trying to Be Right All the Time
Generally speaking, people like to be right, which is understandable because it can validate how intelligent, clever, or good they are. But there’s nothing more distressing (and annoying) than when someone—particularly a leader—insists on always being right. In fact, when a leader’s desire to display competence turns into a need to win at all costs, they can actually lose the respect of their team, undermining morale, performance, and productivity. This becomes particularly problematic in the case of decision-making. So if you’ve got a tendency to want to be right all the time, put a stop to this habit now. There’s no rule stating you must always use your ideas or solutions to be an effective leader. In fact, Disciplined Leaders recognize that if they are obsessed with trying to be right and winning every argument, they’re going to be viewed as less credible and worthy of following.
If you have a tendency to want to always be right, here are some tips to help reel in this behavior:
Admit you don’t have all the answers. Here’s a truth: Even if you’re the greatest leader of all times, you don’t know everything. Furthermore, it’s impossible for any one person to be correct 100 percent of the time. So put aside the ego or any tendencies toward perfection. Learn to embrace the fact that you, like everyone else, will be vulnerable at times, or lacking in ideas and solutions. Recognizing the humanity within you is the first step in the process of getting the right answers. It demonstrates humility (a key leadership trait), selflessness, and intelligence. And, as Sir Ken Robinson says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Ask for help. Particularly when you’re faced with big decisions, it can take a lot of guts to admit you’re unsure of what idea or solution might be best. But remember, Disciplined Leaders bravely put aside their egos and consistently cultivate the wealth of knowledge that their people bring to the table. They create an environment in which team members feel they can speak up and share their thoughts and ideas. Moreover, when challenges arise, these leaders ask their people to develop solutions and aren’t afraid to say, “Your idea is way better than mine!” In doing so, they empower and validate the wisdom and talents of their people while mining the very best of their education, skills, knowledge, and talents. And, most importantly, when a solution becomes the best one, they let their people know that they, the people, were the ones who were right, and the best leaders celebrate those successes.
Acknowledge your mistakes. If your idea totally flopped or failed to some degree, be OK with telling people that you got it wrong. You do not need to go around apologizing to everyone or dwelling on the issue. But do make it clear that although you may expect excellence in yourself, perfection is never an option because it’s not realistic. When you admit you’re wrong, this, again, demonstrates vulnerability and gives everyone, including you, the opportunity to course correct or come up with the right idea or solution. Hide behind mistakes, however, and you’ll do nothing but build contempt for your leadership within your culture and stifle morale and performance. Upon owning up to any errors or less-than-ideal ideas or solutions you might have had, keep a forward focus on what’s vital and get the help you need to get back on track toward achieving your goal.
What other good things can happen when we admit that we were wrong?