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The Five Delusions of Leadership Cheat Sheet by

How Leader Delude themselves
leadership     delusions


Our lives are beset by illusions and delusions. Both involve the processes of the mind but in different ways.

An illusion is a perceptual distur­bance usually involving physical objects. For instance, when we see the moon rising above the horizon, it seems to be much larger than the moon that is risen high in the sky. That’s an illusion scientists have never been able to adequately explain.

A delusion, on the other hand, is a belief distur­bance. For instance, the belief that one’s mind is being read by machines run by government agents is a delusion.

Many otherwise rational and sane leaders are afflicted by delusions. A deluded leader cannot achieve the full depth and range of potential results.

Here are five delusions commonly suffered by leaders. Do they apply to your leader­ship?

1) The Delusion of the Order

When leaders need to have people take action, to go from point A to point B, for instance, many have a tendency to think that the best way to make it happen is to say, "Go from A to B."

However, that thinking is based on a delusion, the delusion that the best and quickest way to get people to do a task is to tell them to do it.

In reality, the best way to get people to do a task is to have them tell themselves to do it. That means going to the trouble of unders­tanding the needs of the people so you can set in motion processes that have them become motivated to choose to go from A. To B.

2) The Delusion Of Corres­pon­dence

This is the mistaken belief of the leaders that their own thoughts and feelings correspond to the thoughts and feelings of the people they lead. The truth is, the thoughts and feelings of the leader and those of the people are often at crossed purposes. For instance, leaders often exhort workers to achieve increases in produc­tivity. The leaders may be convinced they are engaged in positive commun­ication when in truth that commun­ication is quite negative. More often than not, workers are not thinking "­pro­duc­tiv­ity­" but "more work for me!"

Leaders afflicted by this delusion can’t achieve the full range of results they are capable of achieving because they’re usually unable to win the hearts of the people.

3) The Delusion of Continuing Motivation

Many leaders think that because the people indicate they agree with them that such agreement will stick. Yet often people’s agreement stops at the exit door. When they leave the leaders’ presence, they take action showing they don’t agree at all. In other words, they say YES to the leaders but do NO when by themse­lves.

The Doing/­Leading Delusion. Leaders

Often get people to move by telling them to do tasks. But there’s really a better way to get results. Instead of telling people to do a task, they should have them want to take LEADERSHIP of that task. Taking leadership of a task is a far more effective means of accomp­lishing it.

5) The Delusion Of Projection

This is similar to the Delusion of Corres­pon­dence but with an important twist linked to the ego of the leader. Often, when leaders interact with the people, those leaders automa­tically think the people are interested in what they say and do simply because they’re leaders and they’re saying and doing it. This ego-in­flation prevents them unders­tanding what the people really think of them. And when leaders ignore the people’s reality, their real thoughts, they diminish their result­s-p­rod­ucing abilities.

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