156. You Can Be A Leader or You Can Be Right
I was married once before. It lasted four years, one of which was great.
As for the other three years, well, we spent those in various versions of disagreement. Primarily because she couldn’t think clearly.
You see, I was right about everything and it was important for me to make sure she knew that. Apparently, she didn’t know it. And that was a problem.
Sometimes she’d try to tell me that I wasn’t right all the time.
Of course, she was mistaken. I mean, it’s practically laughable, ain’t it?!
After all, I knew in my heart I was right and so there was no way in Havana I was going to compromise my integrity by claiming otherwise.
Maybe, in hindsight, it could’ve potentially caused a few problems.
My Mother, The Therapist
My mother is a therapist. She works with families and couples. As her child, this has had both its benefits and drawbacks, but that conversation is for another cocktail.
One day I was telling my mother how frustrated I was with my marriage.
“I will tell you the same thing I tell my patients,” she told me. “You have a choice: you can either be right or you can be married. You can’t be both.”
Those words were so meaningful, they have been bouncing around in my cranium for decades since.
The marriage didn’t work out, as I mentioned above. I will fill you in on that someday. But the message from my mother-the-therapist remained.
In Which We Now Talk About You As A Leader
There’s a common misconception about leadership. The misconception is that leaders need to make every decision and they always need to be right. Even if they are wrong, some leaders feel that they need to pretend that they are right.
That mindset is a great big hogwash of malarkey.
No great leader has been correct with every decision. If they feel that they have always been correct, then they probably weren’t a great leader.
Great decision-making doesn’t happen in the black and white. Great decision-making happens in the grey area. It is about taking the facts, assessing the potential outcomes, consulting with others, checking your gut and then making a choice.
Sometimes you’re right. Sometimes you’re wrong. And sometimes it is impossible to tell.
Regardless, decision-making doesn’t end when the decision is made. You need to pay attention to what happens as a result of the decision. And it won’t always be good.
Did you get the outcome you expected or was it different? Were you wrong?
If it proved to be a bad choice, admit it and change it.
Humility doesn’t mean you lack confidence.
Admitting you’re wrong doesn’t mean you’re weak.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. It takes a strong leader to admit their faults.
As my mother-the-therapist would probably say, you can either be a great leader or you can be right. You can’t always be both.
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“You can't get it all right all the time, but you can try your best. If you've done that, all that's left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them."
- Idina Menzel