This is the fourth in our series of articles discussing the biggest mistakes leaders can make, as identified in The Fault Lines Leadership Study. The first article we publish each month explores a new aspect of the study, with this series beginning last February.
The Doobie Brothers made a hit of the Michael McDonald / Kenny Loggins song, “What a Fool Believes” – winning Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, and Record of the Year, in 1980. The essence of the lyrics is a man’s attempt to reawaken an old romantic relationship, while completely unaware those feelings were never shared in the first place.
A foolish endeavor.
When it comes to leadership, we too can be naive.
The fourth most identified leadership mistake in The Fault Lines Study* was, “When a leader assumes they know it all, or that they have all of the answers.”
That’s actually the downside to a leader’s career “experience” – a false belief there’s no room for further improvement. They’re the expert, and they know everything there is to know about the job, how it works, and how to get it done.
A leader with this attitude, or arrogance, has narrowed their views to their own perceptions. When this happens they can be the last to know, to recognize, to imagine.
Making Decisions in a Vacuum is a Big Mistake
Leaders are trapped when they fail to ask questions, and gather information. No one is infallible and knows it all. These beliefs can lead to failing to admit when they’re wrong, which damages people’s respect for them, and diminishes trust in their leadership.
Since the beginning of time, we’ve benefited from the competing mental forces of intuition and logic. Both are necessary to our survival. Intuition serves to alert us to immediate dangers and allow quick reaction, while logic works at a slower pace to make comparisons and inform us about best alternatives. Used properly, we get the best of both worlds.
Bright leaders don’t use their intuitions as a shortcut, and allow themselves to miss important considerations. These leaders consult before taking action.
They have a diligent, endless pursuit of information, feedback, and input. Employees see their thoughts are valued, and shows them their opinions matter.
Fresh Ideas and Insights Allow for Better Results
Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize winner for physics in 1965, once famously quipped, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
– Jerry Strom
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This article is based on the *’Fault Lines Study: The Biggest Mistakes a Leader Can Make,’ copyright 2013, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, and request our primary findings paper, ‘The Listening Leader,’ which includes ‘Listening Strategies for the Executive Suite,’ at http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_fault-lines.html .