Another item on Friedman’s “four similarities” list is:
“Leaders tend to rely more on expertise than their own capacity to be decisive.”
In an earlier post on this similarity, Iwrote; As a consultant, I am learning to understand this. When a client asks me to provide a solution for his or her problem, I serve best when I encourage the client to find the solution. Our inclination is to rescue when our mission should be to assist in rational maturation.
Today’s leaders are less oriented towards adventure and more interested in being buckled in for safety. A commonly exhibited behavior involves taking care to create cover for decisions in case they turn out badly. So, they build decisions based on “expertise”. The catch is, if anxiety levels are high, expertise, whose output is opinion-driven, is flawed because it has been gathered through filters of defensive fear.
Ichanged my mind during a series of discussions, about something important at the time, with my colleagues and boss. “You had an opposite opinion the last time we talked”, said my boss. “But I have to be able to change my mind”, I replied. The expressions I read in the room were mixtures of bemusement (“he doesn’t have his act together”), horror (“why throw a wrench into the consenus we’re building?”) and only a few looks of accepting insight (“you really can change how you’re thinking, given new realities”).
Signaling that you can change your mind also indicates comfort with how your brain processes.
Accepting outside expertise, which purports to supply the answers, is a signal that the anxious mind is in charge.
Knowing what you know. Understanding you can’t know everything. Confidence in your ability to draw rational conclusions. Keeping outside expertise in its place. These are signs of self-defined and non-anxious leadership.