May 21, 2013

When Right is Wrong!

You’d recognize this scenario from a mile off: an executive on overdrive speaking out of turn in a group discussion. Dissenting viewpoints are crushed and self-confidence is stepped on when only his opinion is accepted as the right one. This is a bad habit standing in the way of good leaders becoming excellent leaders. In fact, it’s a problem that cripples many leaders from achieving their actual potential.

Even Proverbs warns about the person who must be right:

In the mouth of the fool is a rod of pride,

But the lips of the wise will preserve them. 

Although humility is not a prevalent asset in today’s leadership or economy, it’s the secret weapon used by every great leader. The challenge I have for you today is to learn it as a tool for leading people well.

As Americans, we rarely value humility as a virtue. Most of us allow our gut reactions to dictate outcomes in conversations. In the heat of an argument with a colleague or family member, we allow our fight-or-flight, fear-driven response to kick in. It takes control to protect self at all costs and makes power demands to secure what’s in our best interest. Even when we know we are wrong, we defend our point to the death until it emerges the bloodied champion. But who are we injuring in the process? 

The hormones released in this battle of the will are a mixture of adrenaline and cortisol, usually reserved for situations of immediate danger or harm. Unfortunately, the body works against us with this reaction when it transforms us into power junkies who bulldoze the validity of other people’s contributions.

Even with these bad habits, some of us may not want to change immediately. It’s how we’re used to getting things done. Yet when we understand the science behind what actually happens when we win an argument or discussion the wrong way, we realize how much we’re actually losing.

The solution is to get our bodies to work for us and not against us. In other words, work to build the human connection instead. This means engage in relationships! When we approach our coworkers with vulnerability and humility, the brain releases a chemical called oxytocin. Some call it the love hormone but it has an even more vital purpose in leadership: we become empathetic and human. It opens up our ears to hear something beyond our own opinions. It forces us to consider another perspective and be open-minded and compassionate.

Imagine how life and relationships might change if we spoke less and listened more. Imagine the damage control, the healing of wounds, and the ease of communication!

Few people are naturally humble. It takes a ton of hard work and emotional intelligence. Yet to achieve amazing transformation in your work and family relationships, humility is an essential leadership tool.

Consider three quick tips on leading a life transformed by the power of humility and emotional intelligence:

  • Don’t try to always be right, use intentional restraint to voice your opinion last.
  • Ask good questions about an opposing perspective. You might be surprised at what you can learn!
  • Talk at least half as much as you listen. You will find that people will lean in more to hear what you have to say!

These are vital assets for learning to lead others well. Learn many more tools to boost your leadership potential and influence with The Enemies of Excellence Growth Guide PDF a life management tool we are giving away free with a blog subscription to Coachwell. It’s simple. Just hit Subscribe, and you’re on your way!

To your excellence,

Coach Greg