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Leadership Thought #282 – It’s Not Enough To Be Right

January 13, 2012

Free A Man and a Woman Having a Business Discussion Stock Photo

I have seen many talented leaders and managers get in their own way when it comes to getting their point across.  They almost seem oblivious or indifferent to the vibe in the room and how people their message is being received.  You can be right but alienate other people if you are not careful.  How you communicate can often be as important as what you communicate.  Going all the way back to our grade school days, nobody likes a “know it all.”   Arrogance is an unattractive personality traitWe all pay close attention to how those in positions of authority treat other people.

You are never successful despite other people, only ever because of them.   Purposefully making someone else look bad or stupid is not an effective way to build a fan base.  Not letting other people have their say or keeping them from voicing a different opinion ends up making them feel frustrated and resentful.  Your colleagues want you to share the spotlight, not block them out.  If you are the boss and your ideas are always the best ones, then you either have a weak team or you are stifling independent thinking and creativity.

Leaders need to appreciate that they always have an audience.   Employees are watching your every move and behavior.  They regularly make judgments about your capacity to lead.  You are either cultivating a solid fan base or building a roster of critics.  Once people have made up their mind about your character, it is hard to get them to change their minds even when you are right.  You never become bigger by making someone else feel small.  There are proper ways to disagree and challenge others. This doesn’t mean that everyone must like you, but they must respect you and feel you respect them as well.

It’s not enough to be right!  All decisions require follow-up action and unless you plan to do everything yourself, you need help with execution.  You can certainly use your power and authority to force action in the short term, but in the long term you will never get the buy-in you need to be successful.  In addition, no one person has the market cornered on innovative ideas or has the intellectual capacity and experience to best navigate every situation.  It is not enough to be right.  You must convince others to act accordingly if anything of consequence is to get done.