The little known communication mistake that Leaders make that shut down their people

From my experience working with leaders of business, their intentions are generally good. Most of the decisions they make are for the right reasons but sometimes the impact they have wasn’t quite as planned.

Addicted to being right

Many leaders fall into the trap of being addicted to being right, and don’t even realise it. As they rise to the top their have more power and influence and with that comes the responsibility to either make all of the decisions, or to delegate. The problem when you are addicted to being right is that it means that someone else must be wrong.

If your idea is the best, it means the other persons idea wasn’t as good as yours. If your are right, they must be wrong. If you always find the solution, others will stop searching. If you always decide, others will stop owning.

If you find that your people often agree with everything you say, or that you are doing most of the talking in the meeting, then you may have created the I am right, you are wrong paradigm.  If you are always more dominant or influential it eventually takes power from others. In the push and pull of the relationship dynamics then you will see the other person take a defend or protect stance. They may agree with everything you say because they know that it is pointless trying to influence you. Or they may become political, or even difficult as they try and protect their ego or position.

Top Tips

  1. Leaders speaks last. Lay the problem and then facilitate the debate, don’t offer your opinion until everyone else has pitched their solution
  2. Ask for peoples best thinking. Set it as an intention that no idea is a bad idea, you just want peoples best thinking.
  3. Give praise to those that speak up with new ideas. When someone does offer a new idea celebrate it and encourage it.
  4. Don’t challenge. When challenged, welcome it and thank the person who challenges your thinking and hold off giving your opinion until you have considered all of the options.
  5. Delegate the decisions. If you want your people to own decisions then you have to allow them room for making choices. You can set parameters and guidelines, but then  let them decide.
  6. Don’t shut people down. If there is something you don’t agree on, get curious and remain open minded. The moment you defend and criticise you supress people. Remember with great power comes great responsibility.
  7. Hold yourself in check – Just because you have an opinion doesn’t make it the right one. Manage the urge to jump in and fix and solve straight away.

Leaders, if your people have become conditioned to you always being right then in time they can be unconditioned. It is up to the leaders to change the culture through role modelling how you wish it to be.