How Imagination Ruins Leaders
Imagination destroys some and beats others down.
Phantoms pollute thinking and poison reality.
When imagination ruins you:
#1. A phantom boss – that brings out your best – poisons your relationship with the boss you actually have.
Fan your own flame. Stop using disappointment as justification for mediocrity.
- Remember how far you’ve come.
- Believe in your ability to contribute by remembering past contributions.
- Do important work when you’re at your best.
- Express what you care about.
You are responsible to manage your own energy.
#2. Opportunity you dream about mocks the puny opportunities you actually have.
- Don’t whine about being under-utilized. Words are rudders.
- Row with someone. Make sure your boss is completely convinced you are rowing with her. Eagerness to improve your boss suggests your aren’t committed.
- Do something small. It’s better than doing nothing at all.
#3. The team you WISH you had limits your ability to develop and leverage the team you actually have.
- Find jobs that allow team members to thrive. Align assignments with strengths. If someone consistently fails in one area, don’t expect them to magically succeed.
- Focus on what they can do, not on what they can’t.
- Ask yourself, “What kind of leader do I need to be?” before focusing on the weaknesses of others.
Deal with the people around you as they are, not as you wish they were.
#4. The qualities you WISH you had strangle the strengths you actually have.
- Reflect on times when your energy goes up. What were you doing? Do more of that.
- Stretch yourself.
- Take the VIA Character Profile Report (There’s a button for a free version in the upper right.) or the Clifton StrengthsFinders Assessment.
- Stop judging yourself by others.
- Connect with someone who believers in you.
Never let wishes ruin opportunities.
How might imagination be the cause of problems?
What suggestions do you have for someone who lets wishes ruin realities?
Related article: 7 Downsides of Hope (Psychology Today)
Leaders I respect have taken time to serve others, to get in the trenches for a moment, and ask the rank and file about their work. People visibly brighten up when a high ranking person takes notice and interest in their work.
Thanks Duane. So true. The beauty of your observation is it doesn’t cost anything to notice.
I appreciate this observation…
~~Ask yourself, “What kind of leader do I need to be?” before focusing on the weaknesses of others.~~~
I have a tendency to look outward at what’s wrong in THEM, before taking a closer look inward, it’s far too easy for me to think I’ve got it all covered, after all I’m the leader – right!?
Thanks also for survey links.
Thanks Ken. Overall, an outward focus serves leaders well. But, some introspection helps.
Frankly, the faults/weaknesses/short-comings of others are more irritating than my own. 😉
A particularly energizing post today, Dan. I generally get more out of them than the HBR Tip of the Day! At some point growing up we all imagine ourselves to be a rich and famous where life becomes easy and people flock to our message. Achieving excellence in ANY field takes hard work, dedication, and an occasional reality check as you’ve pointed out above. Be positive about what you have (boss, team, strengths) and your day will probably turn out better for it.
Thanks Susan. Your comment encourages me.
Your mind went where mine went as I wrote today’s post. Success takes a lot of hard work. 🙂
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Human imagination is a tool. A powerful tool at that. And like any power tool, a person must learn how to properly use it. The reason we have airplanes, trains, vehicles, computers, houses, or just about anything that has been manifested into the physical world…is due to human imagination. Many ancient civilizations believed that imagination was connected to the spiritual realm. Examine the word imagiNATION, iMAGInation; many people believe the word itself has spiritual connotations.
Leaders and managers should use their imagination. Imagination invokes thoughts by creating insight into vision and hearing connected to sound. If a company is offering products and services to the public imagination comes into play. Leaders and managers should not fantasize, that leads to delusional thinking, which leads to being unrealistic. This was the demise of Borders Book Stores. Leadership did not embrace technology and failed to have an online presence. By the time Borders did get their technological/digital platform up and running it was too late.
Leadership and management at Borders never could imagine the book store would go out of business due to a disruptive innovation. If they had, they would’ve made better decisions regarding future technology and how it would affect their company.
I have a question about point 2 in part 2 “Eagerness to improve your boss suggests your AREN’T committed.” I capitalized aren’t because that’s the part I don’t understand. Could you please clarify? (Also, it should be you not your) ;-). Thank you.