Three Stumbles From Defeat

Every leader is three stumbles from defeat. But stumble-points reveal footholds for success.

The path down is easier than the path up.

3 stumbles from defeat:

#1. A closed door.

Novices and simpletons can’t see the peril of a closed door. Leadership requires connection, not isolation. You put your leadership in jeopardy when you embrace the comfort and convenience of avoiding people.

Isolation is different from enjoying alone time. Everyone needs some solitude to recharge, recenter, and refocus. But isolation is avoiding the messiness of including others.

Isolation is the first step toward defeat.

#2. A closed mind.

A quick minded decisive leader is a breath away from a closed mind.

If you know more than the people around the table, you’re at the wrong table. It’s more likely that confidence has turned to arrogance. When was the last time you leaned in and listened when someone offered an alternative to your “brilliance”?

#3. An opened mouth.

The third and final step to defeat – loss of influence – is opening your mouth after you shut your office door and closed your mind.  

You don’t know what you’re talking about when your door is closed, your mind is made up, and your mouth is opened.

Your team might not say it, but they hold you in contempt when you speak from isolation and closed minded certainty.

4 footholds for success:

  1. Stay connected and strengthen relationships.
  2. Embrace enough self-doubt to keep an open mind. Real confidence enables openness.
  3. Change your mind. Better yet, seek input before making decisions.
  4. Practice curiosity, especially when you think you know. Just stop talking and wonder. Ask two questions before making one statement.

Gain influence by opening your door, opening your mind, and closing your mouth so you can listen.

How might leaders avoid three steps to defeat?

Afterword: Every organization should allow closed door time. We need privacy to focus on meaningful work. Additionally, decisiveness is a distinguishing mark of successful leaders.