Would You Rather Be Right, Or Effective?

“I hate these coaching sessions.”

Deck was an ex-military, business-casual, family man with pictures of his kids and Chihuahuas meticulously placed on his desk. This was my third leadership coaching session with him. He stretched out in his chair, his designer loafers crossed on the hardwood floor between us, and his gaze landed on the conference room ceiling.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

He shifted to look me in the eye. “I love being right. And these sessions show me that I’m not.”

We all like to be right.

One of the hallmarks of strong leadership is having confidence in your decisions. Strong leadership entails displaying enough certainty to motivate a friend, inspire a team, or lead a company. How do you maintain that confidence if you let doubt poison your conviction, or even worse, if you must admit you were wrong?

In my work, I’ve found that it’s only in learning to “soften” around your own perspective on what is right that you can discover, define, and practice the best directions, outcomes, and actions. As with all my clients, I use the Clarity Compass to help people identify the blind spots in how they see themselves, their issues, and the world. Through a series of workshops or personal coaching sessions, we’re able to identify the facts, stories, intentions, and actions of any situation. In doing so, they learn to be more effective and transparent leaders. So, while being right may be gratifying, you and I both know that blindly charging ahead and relying only on your internal sense of certainty will leave you lost and alone.

Sure, like a lot of my clients, Deck hated our sessions at first. They made him uncomfortable. But he continues to use the work we’ve done together because it helps him set aside his love of being right. It invites him to shed everything unfounded about the way he has viewed his work. It provides him with a clearer perspective, and the means to act on it. Three years later, Deck’s biotech company has almost doubled in size. Among his clients and employees, his reputation is at an all-time high. His professional relationships have never been better.

Given the transformation I’ve seen with hundreds of professionals like Deck, I want to ask you a question: while in many situations you could be both right and effective, if it came down to a choice…. Would you rather be right, or effective?


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