Are you wearing your glasses today? If you left your stylish Ray Ban readers at home – the answer is still a resounding yes. As soon as we wake up in the morning, we’re all wearing our own brand of glasses – and the catch is, this particular pair is completely invisible. We often forget we even have them on.
Our “personal glasses” allow us to focus our attention more sharply on some details in life, while allowing us to blur others. We tend to search for, interpret, focus on, and remember information in a way that buttresses our preconceptions about work and life–what psychologists call “confirmation bias”.
While these secret spectacles offer us positive attributes–allowing us to ascribe our natural talents and life experiences to our team–we often forget our perception, as CEO, is not necessarily the “right” one, or the one that’s best for the group as a whole.
In my last post, we discussed empowering teams through alignment, while defining alignment as the act of everyone on your team moving in the same direction, whether or not everyone agrees it’s the right direction to go.
But what happens when it’s you, the CEO, who doesn’t agree with the direction in which your team is traveling? If the expectation is for the entire group to reach a decision together, can you, or more importantly, should you override the decision with a top-down veto?
In most cases, leaders avoid unilateral vetoes, as they usually impede on trust and teamwork. Doing so may occasionally require you to manage from a position of paradox. That is:
You want to move in a certain direction, but you’re empowering the team to move in another.
As a CEO, you have a fiduciary responsibility to exercise your best judgment, but you also have an organizational responsibility to build effective teams.
Being able to manage from paradox is an increasingly important leadership skill in an era when intellectual capital is king, and knowledge workers are the means of accumulating and exercising it. Here are five keys to mastering this essential skill:
This is the way we stay fresh, relevant, and agile in a world where there’s way too much evolving at once for any one perspective to absorb it all. By detaching your safety strap as a CEO, and allowing for other glasses to assist you in taking in the view, you’ll be able to manage effectively from paradox, grow your team responsibly, leverage capital, and make the most from your diverse group of knowledge workers.