Thursday, June 4, 2015

Debunking Three Common Myths About Leadership from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Guest post by Brenda Corbett:

The Star Wars franchise has seen numerous leaders, including great ones of the dreaded Dark Side. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out late this year, we will see new and old leaders take the big screen with various styles of leaderships. There are many definitions of leadership, but sometimes the best way to define something is to explain what it is NOT.  Looking at the common myths and misconceptions can shed light on the truths that can set us free as leaders and help us unleash the best kind of success in an organization.

Myth #1: I can use my motivation to help others be motivated
Make no mistake! One of a leader’s key responsibilities is to motivate others, to “rally the troops.” But what motivation are you using? The operative term here is “my motivation.” What motivates the leader does not necessarily motivate everyone else in the organization. This can be a real stumbling block for leaders as they make assumptions about why their employees do what they do.

Most of the time, leaders are just not digging deep enough to determine why it matters to employees. But having that complete understanding of the reasons people behave the way they do is crucial for a leader’s – and company’s – success. Yoda nailed this in the head. He took the time to understand and influence those he led. He continuously asked questions encouraging others to think. He engaged them in their thoughts and ideas to truly understand what motivated them. By getting to know your employees like Yoda got to know his students, you can help employees make positive choices when deciding what behaviors to use – all based on THEIR motivations, not yours.

Myth #2: My job as a leader is to get my team on board
Most leaders think that their job is to get everyone in the company to think like they do. Align everyone to the company vision and mission. Get them all speaking the same vernacular to go onward and upward to productivity and profits. Create uniform processes so that everyone does everything the same way in perfect, efficient harmony. But as soon as this occurs, it starts to become solely about the leader, starting the steps towards the Dark Side.

Certainly there has to be a team mentality, a loyalty to the company and to each other, but to be successful, companies should be full of free thinkers. Sure, Darth Vader has ultimate respect from all of his followers, but not for good reasons. They respected him out of fear. He didn’t approve (to use the lightest word) when people spoke up or had different thoughts or ideas than him. If someone disagreed with him, they knew to keep their mouths shut or expect Vader to use the force to choke them to death. Darth Vader had the power and respect, but remember how he ended up? Yeah.

As a leader you should aim for diversity of thought by welcoming opposing viewpoints and be open to new ideas. I think you’ll find that’s where some of your best ideas come from.

Myth 3: Every argument has a winner and a loser
This sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Surely this cannot be a myth. But there is an alternate scenario, one in which everybody wins. The key is in your approach. As decisions are made, some go one way, some go another – and as a leader you’ve got to be okay with that. Have you heard of the term “right fighter?” It’s someone who just wants to be right, that is what is most important to them. Not success or solutions, just being right. If you are a strong leader, you know that it just doesn’t work. Being right or getting your way or winning the argument is not the goal, it’s not the path to success. Recognizing and fostering a “we’re all winners” mentality is the best self-fulfilling prophecy of all! Han Solo could be quite the narcissist, but he had this down when it came to taking action. While under attack from Imperial Forces, he made the decisions as a leader and Princess Leia and Luke followed. It was not without digs and questioning from Princess Leia, but ultimately Han Solo led his crew to safety and the argument definitely resulted in everyone as a winner – and more importantly, a survivor.

So tell me…can we agree to disagree? I think so.

We want to know what you think. How do your personal motivations come in to play with your leadership style? Do you ever fall prey to these myths?  Are there other myths you’ve encountered?

Let us know in the comment section below or connect with us on Facebook.

Good luck in your leadership journey. May the force be with you.

About the Author
Brenda Corbett is the co-author of Why It Matters – The Sherpa Guide to What You Are Looking For, centered on a concept she created as an executive coach. Your Why It Matters provides the inspiration for what you choose to do, personally and professionally through four key points leading to your ultimate sense of satisfaction. Based in Cincinnati, but working all over the world, Corbett literally wrote the book on executive coaching, The Sherpa Guide: Process-Driven Executive Coaching. It’s the foundation for certificate programs at 10 major universities. Corbett’s next project will incorporate neuroscience research into her executive coaching methods because it all starts with the brain!

No comments: