I love getting things right. And I love being right. If I’m not careful, a decent part of my brain at any given time is taken up working out what the current rules are of whatever “game” or role I’m playing, and then striving to follow them, do it right, be perfect. Sound familiar to anyone? For a lot of high achievers, this is what we learned to do as we grew up, and never quite got out of the habit.

And when it comes to things I “know” – because I know more than you or I have more experience than you…. Well then I’m even more sure I’m right, and by definition, you aren’t. It’s risky, vulnerable, shameful even to admit we might be wrong.

I even do it around leadership. Spending my time observing leaders of all shapes and sizes, analysing, judging, deciding what I think they’re doing right (and wrong) and making extensive mental notes. Because isn’t that how we do leadership? Now, learning from role models and those around us is perfectly fine, but when it tips into a thought process that there’s a “right” and therefore also a “wrong” way to lead then it gets problematic.

Firstly it’s unhelpful because there is no right way to lead. That’s right, you heard me. There’s no right way. To all those who desperately hoped otherwise….I’m sorry. When we seek out that right way, we become more focused on finding it than on developing our own style. More obsessed with finding the answer than actually leading, undertaking trial and error, getting feedback, learning from our experiments. We never find our own leadership voice, it’s always just a pale imitation of many others with no authenticity.

When we take that a step further and decide we have it right – and by definition therefore others don’t – then it really starts to become problematic. Because self-righteousness, in any environment, is a huge barrier to being in relationship. There’s no space for discovery, learning, growth, vulnerability, connection. There’s no real space for conversation or debate. There’s just a brick wall – like it or lump it. Oh, and by the way, I’m judging you.

We have all felt it; the injustice and inflexibility of someone who “knows” they are right. It can cause a lot of different reactions, none of them helpful. Some people fight back and create conflict, some get resigned and mentally check out, others shy away or start to doubt themselves. None of those are ingredients for high functioning teams.

Take a look. Where are you trying to get it right? Or where are you so sure you’re “right” about something or someone that it’s getting in the way of any connection. I’m really taking a long hard look for myself, as it’s not a character trait I’m proud of. I’m practicing humility, openness and a willingness to admit I’m wrong – because that creates a space for relationship, conversation, connection and learning. I invite you to do the same.

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