Do you have a manager who suffers from “rightness”? One who, when he believes he is right, stops listening and ignores data that might prove him wrong?
Identify the Issue
Nick was such a manager and his “rightness” was keeping his team from making critical decisions.
Here’s what happened – and how we helped him move past this crippling behavior.
When the CFO called, she had reached her wit’s end. “I can’t have one more conversation with him,” she said. “Whether he offers an opinion, or he responds to feedback, Nick always has a quick answer. And his way is always right. There’s no room for a different perspective or the chance that he might not have considered everything. If someone shares evidence that there is something else to consider, he won’t listen.”
“Nick is a victim of his own identity,” I responded. “His ego demands that he be seen as an expert. And if something doesn’t feel right to him, he will refuse to consider it. You are probably losing a lot of valuable time and forward motion just because of this. What does Nick bring to the executive team that prompted you to call me?”
“We need Nick,” the CFO responded. “He is extremely talented and fills a particular niche that would be hard to fill right now. Can you help?”
Accept the Challenge
Nick and I were introduced, and of course, as a self-proclaimed expert, he was convinced he did not need coaching.
“I’m not sure why you are here,” he said to me. “I’ve taken leadership bootcamps and read a lot of leadership books,” he said.
“Nick, even the best leaders have a coach. As human beings, we are capable of continuous development throughout our entire lives,” I countered. “And it appears that there is something that is holding you back from that next level of development. Let’s talk.”
It was difficult to share. Someone who is always right cannot easily see how he might benefit from growth.
However, after I shared feedback from the executive team and gave examples from some of his decisions that had gone awry, he had to admit there might be something there. It was then that we decided on a development plan.
Focus on Growth
Over the next few months, Nick, and I met on a regular basis. We first focused on understanding how one’s identity is formed and how it might get in the way of growth, and then experimented with developing a taste for considering new perspectives to expand and enlarge thinking and decision-making. He asked for feedback from colleagues and exercised restraint as he considered their opinions. The deeper work was helping him to reshape his identity to become a learner in the world. He was up to the challenge.
Additionally, we had some damage repair to do – Nick had alienated everyone on the executive team, and it was a process for him to learn how to re-enter and build trust. This paid off.
Enjoy New Levels of Success
I’m pleased that working with Nick resulted in success for him and the team. The CFO called just recently, and shares that he is being considered for promotion.
“He has become one of our most trusted assets,” she said. “I’m excited for his future – and for ours.”
Do you have someone on your team who has found him or herself in an ego trap such as “rightness”? How has it affected the rest of your team? And how would your company be able to move forward if this was resolved?
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.