Pressure that’s rooted in unrealistic expectation frustrates, defeats and sometimes even crushes. Self-imposed pressure drains joy, prevents progress and invites leaders to become isolated and self-protective.
13 things leaders don’t need to do:
- Stand up front
- Pretend they know when they don’t
- Talk first, most and longest
- Cling to authority
- Protect their image
- Feel important
- Fix all problems
- Be right all the time
- Make all decisions
- Answer all questions
- Lead all meetings
- Take credit
- Have position
When leaders do these things, pressure goes up, while satisfaction goes down.
I woke up this morning with two conversations on my mind – one from the past, and the other recent.
I once asked Mark Miller, the vice president for organizational effectiveness of Chick-fil-A, what advice he would give his younger self if he could go back in time. Miller said he would tell himself that he doesn’t need to have all the answers.
Self-important leaders need to have all the answers. The need to have answers makes you dread questions, reject exploration and build walls. The pursuit of answers, on the other hand, makes others feel valuable. When you have all the answers, you tell others they’re not important. “Let’s find an answer” is better than “I have the answer.”
The second conversation was with an experienced, high-level leader who insisted that a leader must learn from mistakes. The need to learn and grow is natural and joyful. The need to be right is arrogant.
Talent languishes, progress stalls and leaders posture in need-to-be-right cultures. Sadly, “cover your butt” is normal for many organizations.
Rather than saying, "What do you know?," it's better to ask, “What are you learning?”