Self-Deception and Power Traps
One of the biggest pitfalls of being a business leader is succumbing to power traps. It happens slowly but surely with most bosses and business owners, the self-deception and the lure of power. It’s human nature. Only we don’t see it in ourselves. We’re self deceived.
How do you know if you’re becoming a bad boss? Do you see yourself as your staff truly does?
Numerous studies show that people in power tend to become self-centered and oblivious to what their subordinates need, do and say. To compound matters, your staff carefully scrutinize everything you do and say. These two phenomena merge into what Robert Sutton calls the “toxic tandem,” in his book Good Boss, Bad Boss.
Wielding power over others can cause you to:
- Become more focused on your own needs and wants
- Become less focused on others’ needs
- Act as through written and unwritten rules don’t apply to you
This isn’t the case with only a handful of personality types. Most people in power positions adopt these tendencies; it’s human nature. And as it doesn’t always please us to be that way, we become adept at self-deception.
In the work I do with executives and business owners, this is a huge eye-opener for most. We rarely see ourselves as others do. And most of us are subject to mind tricks like the self-enhancement bias.
Good bosses remain on guard to avoid such power traps. They never forget how closely they are watched by their people, and they resist taking advantage of their position and ignoring others’ needs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you remind yourself that your people are watching you closely?
- Do you avoid doing little things that undermine their performance and dignity?
- Do you ignore the little things that could be perceived as overuse of power?
- Do you realize that everything you say and do will be magnified in your subordinates’ minds?
You can’t see what you don’t want to see. That’s why it’s important to work with an adviser or coach who can help you catch yourself when you’re becoming overly optimistic about your actions and how you effect others around you - and help you become a better leader.
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