As a leader, you need to do the right thing. You need to guide others to do what’s right. You also need right thinking. The paradox is that you risk getting caught in the “need to be right” trap.
Knowing you are right and needing to prove you are right is a distinction between wisdom and ego.
The need to be right, when being right is irrelevant causes relationship and leadership problems including but not limited to
• the inability to coach others
• Breach of trust
• Lack of engagement
As a leader, the ability to coach or course-correct others requires you to know what’s right, but still meet others where they are. The need to be right causes you to lecture instead of coach. The result is that your employees won’t trust you because they already know they are wrong and you are right, so they stop taking initiative and stop engaging.
In your personal life the need to be right causes relationship problems. People see you as argumentative, aggressive and even as a bully. As an enlightened leader, you have to discern the little distinctions between needing to be right, knowing what’s right, and needing to prove you are right.
See if you can practice the art of knowing you are right, but not always needing to prove it. This practice is sure to tame the ego and give you the discernment about where to use your energy.
A Personal Example:
While boarding a flight, a very tall man was sitting in my aisle seat.
When I said, “I’m here…” he stood up to let me in by the window seat.
I said, “Actually I’m the aisle, but I’m glad to switch since you’re so tall.”
Then, he let me slide over, and when he looked at his ticket, he said, ‘”Yep, 8 A: I’m in the aisle.”
(He thought the A stood for Aisle.)
I noticed the urge to correct him to prove a point.
Can I be right, know I’m right, and not need to prove it?
I was willing to trade seats anyway, so why prove a point?
So, I smiled and was what the late Wayne Dyer called “quietly effective.”
I’m playing around with the idea that sometimes being right is relevant and at other times irrelevant.
This post was inspired by one of my Thoughts of the Day that I post on Facebook.
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At some point within the last year, this same thought occurred to me. I realized that I didn’t always have to correct someone when I knew that they were not right. The hardest part has just been cultivating an awareness of the tendency. At first, the words were already out of my mouth before I realized it might be better not to speak, but over a relatively short time I began to take a quiet pleasure in choosing not to speak. I feels good to have that self control and to make choices that enhance relationships rather than wound them. And it relieves quite a bit of emotional pressure not to feel responsible for correcting every error that comes to my attention. Not to mention that occasionally, I think I am right and afterward find out I wasn’t. It’s particularly satisfying to dodge those bullets.
Thanks for this post, Marlene. As usual you hit the nail on the head, and I really love your transparency in giving an example from your own experience.
Great insights Jim. Thanks for checking in!