For those of you Jack Nicholson movie buffs, we remember his speech in "A Few Good Men". For a refresher - click link. The memorable line is "You can't handle the truth !"
WHY BEING RIGHT SUCKS
We all have some issues with 'truth', especially when 'truth' is pointed at us. We seem to do better when 'truth' is aimed at others (spouse, kids, team members, etc.). Why is that?
- We remember all the scoldings we got as kids, and it makes us feel bad.
- We feel justified in our actions, so therefore we couldn't be wrong.
- We need to lead, so leaders must not ever be wrong.
Well, if you lead a team of any sort or type, it is deadly to be always right. Especially reminding the team that you were right is even worse. Then, on top of it all, you state that you being 'right' is some universal 'truth', that the team better understand and comply.
What you get in the end of all this is animosity, reluctance, inaction, and other team crushing behavior.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A LEADER
First, there are no easy answers. I really believe we only learn when we fail, when we were not right - when sometime we didn't know the 'truth'. So where is the balance - how can we assist in spreading the 'truth'?
- If is now clear to me that you can't stop someone from making the mistake, no matter how much you try. They will learn best from their own mistakes; learning their own truths.
- As a leader, be there to support and assist after the fall - help clean up the mess.
- Talk about what we 'wish we would have known before' the problem arose.
- Let them come to their own conclusion - it will be a more powerful lesson.
- Express that you have made the same mistake. You will come off as more 'normal' and less like Jack Nicholson in the movie.
However, you must, in my opinion, still teach, still counsel, still set team standards, and most of all you must set the example as a leader. Lead by example, by being a good team member also.
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com). David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation. @dhaynestech.