I am a flawed human being. Not necessarily a bold statement – because we are all flawed. But my flaws seem to come out at the worst times and under the worst possible conditions.
And one of my big flaws is my stubbornness. Some might call it hardheadedness or inflexibility or any other number of flattering adjectives. But the truth is, there are times when I get an idea in my head, and it is just about impossible for someone to change my mind.
That actually works to my advantages in some cases. There are times when what gets into my head is actually the right thing (even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then just popped into my head). And on these rare occasions, being stubborn (or as I like to call it, “steadfast”) can work in my favor.
But too often, it works against me. I get the idea in my big ol’ melon and I refuse to change. Even when the evidence says I should change. I believe that my way is right and others are wrong.
For a leader, the problem is that even if your way is right, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else’s way is wrong. It could just be different. Not wrong. Just different.
True leaders are able to recognize that there are very few situations where there is only one correct way to do something. Their preferred method may work very well for them. But it could work well for them based on their training, experience, and passion. But not everyone they are leading has that same background. They may have a different solution that works well for them.
The best leaders are quick to assess that what they are facing isn’t a matter of right or wrong. Or even better or best. It could just be a matter of different. And the leader will probably get more buy in if they allow different – as long as it isn’t a matter of right or wrong. Leaders don’t need to control everything. If they do control everything they aren’t leading – they are simply managing.
Leader, know the difference between right and wrong. Teach your people the different between right and wrong. But be equally adept in understanding when something is just different. Don’t turn “just different” into an issue of right or wrong.