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Senior Correspondent

Kryptonite: The Thing that Weakens Leadership

Kryptonite is mythical material from Krypton that drains Superman of his superpowers.


The belief that self-evaluation trumps the evaluation of those directly impacted by your leadership weakens your effectiveness. What you think of your leadership isn’t as important as what others think.

"Leadership is about others."

The people around you know what they think of your leadership. But, when they’re “wrong” you marginalize their feedback and move on.

"Minimizing the perception of others gives you permission to ignore them."

Leaders who spout, “I don’t care what you think,” are asses. They often don’t have the courage or honesty to face hard truths about themselves.

"You’re not as great as you think."

You have one or two outstanding leadership qualities. Anything beyond that and you reached divine status.

Benefit and danger:

The benefit of over-estimating your strength is the courage to try big things. The danger of over-estimating your strength is ignoring others.

10 ways to solve the kryptonite problem:

  1. Keep your big ego to yourself. Don’t talk about self-confidence. Self-confident leaders express confidence in others.
  2. If you are a leader with confidence, you aren’t as great as you think. (Meditate on that.)
  3. Say thank you when receiving feedback.
  4. Celebrate the strengths of others. Great leaders see greatness in others.
  5. When someone says, “You seem harsh,” for example, believe them.
  6. Treat others as more significant than yourself.
  7. The people around you are reluctant to tell you the brutal truth, even when you invite it. Work hard to get feedback.
  8. Listen to those who share your values and commitment to your organization.
  9. Listen to those who are committed to your success.
  10. Keep saying to yourself, “I could be wrong.” Keep asking others, “What do you think?”

You need enough ego to believe you matter but not so much that you ignore others.

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