Yes, The Problem Is Us – Denial Hurts
Optimism and positive thinking are key principles of leadership – but when it blinds leaders to real risks then it is harmful.
The Problem is Us – Let’s Look in the Mirror
I remember politely telling one GM that his factory was like a train wreck waiting to happen.
I could not say which wheel would fall off but clearly one wheel would fall off soon given the culture and management vacuum.
He could not hear me no matter how I approached the topic. Three months later he lost US$350K in cash and his key customer and that plunged them into decline and final bankruptcy in that holding.
None of us wants to believe that our thinking and behavior are the biggest problem in our factory.
However, we can carry thoughts and self protecting biases that make us the biggest problem.
Our Own Biases Hurt Us
Further, we sometimes do not want to hear the truth because it hurts or will cost money. We like to think that problems will not boil over even if we do not eat humble pie. Humble pie? Yes, because our people and even consultants can see the problem clearly. We need to admit that they are right.
The roof may not ever fall even if we do not put the extra brace in that mine tunnel. But if it falls, it will be bad. Regardless, the slow bleeding of our wrongheaded bias will hurt our business every day and may become life threatening.
We all need to take some time to think about “What if I am wrong?” and “What could be better in my company/division culture that is not happening now?” and “What is another way of thinking about our situation that would help me find my own blind spot?
When we start to understand that we may be the problem, then we can hear the voices to help us avoid more bleeding or even the train wreck.
By the way, a key bias is none of wants to believe that we made a bad hire or need help in hiring better. See also Vulnerability as a Key to Good Hiring and Great Leadership . None of us wants to admit that we have supported the wrong manager. Finally for today, none of us wants to believe we are managing poorly.
May we all have enough light in our world to fix the problems which are easiest to fix actually, ourselves.