Guest Blog: The “all-seeing, all-knowing” leader myth.
“…when senior people repeatedly act as if they have all the answers, they run the real and serious risk of ending up believing that they actually do.”
Another in an occasional series of contributions from members of our Advisory Board and other friends of the Daedalus Trust.
This blog is an excerpt from the eBook “Transforming the Forces of Failure into a Source of Success” by Geoff Marlow, a founding member of the Daedalus Trust Advisory Board.
Formerly Corporate Director of Innovation Leadership at a global consulting firm, he has been in private practice since 2001. Previously UK Director of the Society for Organisational Learning. Geoff is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)
Published on our site in March 2016.
Anyone can be deceived into thinking “I am right, you are wrong”. However the more successful someone is, the more difficult it can be to avoid or escape this self-deception.
Past success can easily be taken as proof that “I got where I am today by being right – always seeing more clearly and correctly than others”.
When you occupy a position with influence over others, it can be very hard for them to challenge your perspectives overtly.
This means it becomes much less likely that you will encounter, and be in a position to benefit from, the different views of others that would complement your own perspectives, improve decisions and ensure their implementation.
This doesn’t mean others won’t challenge your perspectives – just that they will do so behind your back, adding to the forces of failure.
The stance that “I am right, you are wrong” not only deceives the self, it destroys relationships that are increasingly vital to the future success of the organisation.
The organisational ability to innovate atrophies, and others withdraw from taking action unless expressly approved by ‘someone senior’.
This leads to a vicious circle where influential people inadvertently create conditions that block the ability in others to cooperate and collaborate to co-create a better future.
When the most senior and influential people cannot see how to resolve this dysfunction, they frequently conclude that their only option is to take all the decisions on their own.
This failure to share leadership burdens not only reduces the quality of important decisions, but it also increases levels of executive stress.
A more sinister side-effect is that when senior people repeatedly act as if they have all the answers, they run the real and serious risk of ending up believing that they actually do.
This perpetuates the prevailing myth of the all-seeing, all-knowing leader who always has all the answers.
In the worst cases, this self-deception develops into full-blown Hubris Syndrome…
Geoff Marlow’s full eBook “Transforming the Forces of Failure into a Source of Success” is available as a free download via the homepage link at www.geoffmarlow.com