Most young leaders come into positions with the strong desire to be right. It makes good sense! Walking into a leadership position there is a need for your employees to gain confidence in your abilities and one of the quickest ways to do that is to be right. However, if being right becomes the only mantra for young leaders little development occurs. The world (unfortunately) is full of young leaders who have turned older and still want to be right! They tend to be toxic to any culture and want to rule rather than lead!
But it feels so good to be right! That is because it is our ego that is taking over and the truth is, ego has little to do with effective leadership. The shift that must occur for the leader is from being right to doing right! The need to be always right is often authoritarian. The desire to do right comes from wanting to influence and not dictate. The ability to influence is one of the true characteristics of effective leadership.
If you have any sort of power in your position, you have the ability to make decisions and cast your “rightness” on them. Power, does not necessarily bring you influence or respect! Power, in of itself, does not make you a successful leader. In most cases, ultimate power brings only fear and compliance not support and commitment.
With power comes much responsibility to do the right thing. But how? I would look to two of my favorites, Simon Sinek and Brene Brown for insights and suggest that both of these leaders’ works are read and studied. Sinek always asks the question about the “why?” Do you know your why? Do you know why you exist as a company and as an individual? It is about your own core being, your own mission. The farther you move away from your mission, the more often you want to be right instead of do right. Brown has some great work on vulnerability. Leaders must “shed their armour” in order to lead with vulnerability! You cannot be right all the time but you can strive to do right always. That means being authentic, open and transparent. It means parking your ego and doing what is right for those you serve.
Traditional leadership wants you to lead with power and authority. Unfortunately we have too many examples of this in our world from politics to large corporations to even small businesses. Intimidation is often seen as the way to be right. But we can’t afford to continually support traditional leadership in any organization. Doing right for others must always prevail over being right for yourself!