In business, and I suspect in life, we can get hung up on “being right.” Over the course of our careers in HR, we’ve worked with many prospective leaders who were derailing because it was so important that people recognize their rightness.
Years ago, there was a popular cassette tape (I told you it was a long time ago) in which the author was talking about our propensity to fall on the sword for all types of issues. The author spoke about it as a Joan of Arc complex, being willing to ride into battle at a moment’s notice. His recommendation at the end of the tape was, “When you go home tonight, shoot the horse!”
The issue isn’t simply about being right, it’s really about our need to shout it out, our unwillingness to seek compromise. We stand firm, our backs rigid, our arms crossed, our minds closed.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t some issues that are so important that there are no compromises, I just know that those are few and far between. Generally, things disintegrate because we have lost sight of effective leadership. We’ve become stuck. We can’t listen; we don’t consider.
Before we ride into battle, we need to ask ourselves these questions.
- Is what I am thinking true?
- How do I know?
- What if I am wrong?
- How would this situation look if I were standing in someone else’s shoes?
- Is there more than one perspective and, if so, what can I learn from other viewpoints?
- Am I being too emotional?
- If so, why? Is it helpful to finding a solution?
- Do I have an unhealthy need to be right all the time?
- If yes, then why?
- Am I listening, or am I simply formulating my next argument?
- Can the challenges of this situation enable me to become a better leader?
Suspending judgment, taking responsibility for our responses, and developing a discipline around active listening will strengthen our leadership, create a better followership, and strengthen a culture of collaboration and innovative solutions.
That’s our view. We’d love to hear yours.