Overcoming Leadership Isolation and the Biases it Creates
If you’re like the thousands of leaders I know… you know it’s lonely at the top.
It’s true, whether the top is across a team, department or division of a company. If you lead, it gets lonely.
You lead because of what you know. Those around you need your clarity; they look to you for answers. Those who report to you need your critical perspective and approach.
Those around you want to know what you know. But what they don’t know is how much you – don’t know. And that’s one of the many factors that create isolation.
Isolation is a condition. It sucks.
Isolation brings stress. And stress makes all of us stupid. No matter how smart we are.
Isolation destroys: Profit. Relationships. Life. Isolation lies at the heart of fatigue.
Isolation creates blind spots. Blind spots create biases.
Biases impact your leadership; Affect your decisions; Cause assumptions; Impair judgment; Limit your outcomes.
Isolation comes at a high cost. But no one recognizes it. No one talks about it. It’s too unpleasant.
Survey results from my work reveal:
- Astonishingly 80 percent of respondents were only “Somewhat Aware” of their own blind spots
- Only 13.3 percent of executives surveyed believed they were “Very Aware” of their blind spots
- One-third admitted they were less aware of isolation than they thought
- 60 percent of executives confessed to being “Very Emotionally Attached” to their outcomes
- 66.6 percent of participants said their people were not as engaged as they should be
Our perception influences reality. We see who we are, not what is.
Here are some ways to overcome the biased thinking that comes from isolation;
- Encourage honest feedback.
- Create a culture of openness.
- Actively listen to what lies behind the statements and questions you’re getting.
- Ask more. Tell less.
- Observe more. React less.
- Breathe through your impatient need to jump in.
- See beyond yourself.
- Continually ask yourself, “What’s trying to happen here?
- Speak in neutral terms. Lose the words, “I,” and “You.”
- Objectify issues. Don’t personalize them
- Practice detachment from thinking and action.
- Resolve issues. Decrease dramas.
- Find an accountability partner who doesn’t rely on you for a paycheck.
Gain feedback, create climates of openness rather than fear, and stay neutral. Exercising self-restraint, being engaged rather than demanding, all go a long way to deceasing isolation across yourself, others, your teams, and units, your clients, partners, suppliers and vendors.
End isolation. Before it ends you.
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