We all know that strategies/projects fail sometimes and it happens due to various reasons. One of the reason that may cause a failure and which is neglected many time is Leader’s own perceptions.
In a recent discussion with one of the senior leaders, he mentioned that he is not keen to take women in his projects as he feels that they carry a lot of emotional and personal baggage with them. His other assumption is that every critical project requires long hours of work, which may not be suitable for women. He therefore refrains from employing women in his team.
Perception is a very vital and important part of a human behavior. It largely governs an individual’s approach to situations. Perceptions play an important role in defining the character of a leader.
There are many such examples where leader’s perceptions force him/her to do things in a sub-optimal way.
False assumptions, priorities and limiting beliefs could really hamper project executions and badly affect strategies. Let’s understand these in a little more detail below-
- False Assumptions – It may be difficult to come out of these, without help. They are deep-rooted. Some types of false assumptions are as below:-
- Someone/Something is a certain way
- Myopic Thinking
- Jumping to conclusions
- “Ready fire aim” thinking
- What happened before will happen again
- False Priorities- Some leaders place greater value on personal values, often deeply ingrained, than on the success of the initiative. Conflict goes like this-
- Right vs. success
- Smart vs. success
- Prestige vs. success
- Safety vs. success
- Limiting Beliefs- All of these can lead to delays and frustrations-
- I can’t trust others to get it done
- Everything must be perfect
- This is my baby
- I have nothing to contribute here
- I don’t like asking for help/money
- Conflict is bad
A leader needs to have an awareness of what and how he is perceiving things. Any pre-conceived notion should be evaluated carefully before such ideas start influencing decision-making and thereby hamper the execution of tasks. For an experienced leader, many of such notions may stem from past experience and may be well founded. But in today’s VUCA world, leadership is all about changing your paths smartly based on the “currents”.
An effective leader is always the one who is aware of his perceptions and how they may affect his projects / strategy and makes continued effort to combat challenges arising due to them. It’s human to have perceptions but ‘not wise’ if such notions start hampering our relationships towards fellow workers, decision-making and execution of tasks.
Remember – “Businesses Don’t Fail, Leaders Do”. Start by being aware of your perceptions and behaviors and be more pragmatic in your approach.