The boss isn’t right …But he defends order


“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Competition is the dilemma we all face while climbing the business ladder. For someone to win, someone else has to lose. This is how the system has worked for years and we have had good, and even extraordinary results. Nonetheless, as we have said many times before, it seems as though it is not enough anymore, and it’s also not the best strategy.

There are many examples of such leadership success in business, but despite its concrete results, we can also see that they have a side that, rather than build, destroys. The problem is that the leaders of organizations have been successful, generally, because they have clung to being right. Certainly, in many cases their point of view and their actions are assertive and have had business results. Therefore, for many, exploring other paths could result besides unnecessary, unprofitable. Nonetheless, there is another type of leadership. There are leaders who, over time, have left a positive balance, not only on the organization’s bottom line, but also with their business teams and other stake holders. Both types of leadership share passion, dedication, focused energy and discipline. Their difference lies in how they solve business challenges.

Imagine two different scenarios: in the first, the leader has achieved success through competing and winning, through showing power and strength, and through having a business position cultivated by proving his or her point of view and by achieving results. In the second scenario, the leader has achieved the same results, but not by proving he or she  is right, but by integrating their team’s perspective to address challenges. This leader isn’t always right, but the entire team including him or her is. This leader has learned to effectively address challenges while  feeling at peace and being aware of his or her team’s development. We call this conscious leadership, a path that leaves behind self-realization and growth.

Although the first leader’s results are effective, there is a risk. It is likely that, at some point, these leaders will fail precisely by defending their point of view. Someone else will show up proving to be right and having better results than they do. It is also likely that their team members are satisfied with the results, but dissatisfied in working with them. It is likely that team members will be fighting under the table, trying to prove they are right so that they can have a better place in the team, because they need to be competitive in order to win. Over time, performance cost can be very high for the organization, thus not sustainable. If the marketing manager, the production manager, or the finance manager would focus on proving they are right, then they would only make decisions with a potentially high cost for the company, based on proving their point. It’s precisely their arrogance of trying to prove ‘I am right’ the cause for a probable low performance.

In the second scenario, the leader with whom their team is used to integrating perspectives, dialogue is the foundation to find better solutions, and therefore agreement upon what’s true for everyone yields admiration—not only for the leader, but for everyone. Self-admiration comes from the teams performance, their sense of success and their sense of accomplishment. This scenario would be nearly impossible to achieve with a boss who’s orientation would be to win by means of proving his or her point.

In both scenarios the boss has the final say, it is his or her prerogative and responsibility. Nevertheless, the leader of the first scenario runs the risk that, because he or she has ignored the team’s perspective during the strategic process, the opportunity to change the course of business will be lost. While the leader of the second scenario gives only the last word after having made sure that everyone expressed their perspective and that everyone has understood the perspective of others. From the economical and performance point of view, the second scenario is much safer and much more profitable. Those teams lead by a person whose mental model is of humility and self-realization, besides being more effective, can also have an impact, which will be significantly more successful for the business.

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order

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