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2 Faulty Thinking Patterns Leaders Must Ditch

2 Faulty Thinking Patterns Leaders Must Ditch

Most progressive people in business understand only too well that the old paradigm of faulty thinking  has long gone.

Examples like “profit before values”: underhand strategies of “the end justifies the means” or  “we are important so we deserve special privileges”  have been exposed and deleted by the best organisations.   While businesses regroup and reevaluate their ethics, culture and practices to make amends, change doesn’t happen overnight.  Some two years or so on from the major scandals, there is still much to do.

Optimistically change for the better must occur, and evidence of proactive and definitive change is happening, typically illustrated by the very strong corporate statement issued by the likes of  Barclays Bank, where they set out in no uncertain terms their ethics and standards moving forward.  Other companies are positioning themselves accordingly.

Many of the problems arose, not because people involved in the scandals where inherently bad people, but because they were  victims of “faulty thinking”.  Faulty thinking taken to the extreme.   Throughout history you can see examples of faulty thinking being taken to the extreme.  Think Hitler and modern day dictatorship, terrorism, and modern day slavery.  There are lesser degrees of faulty thinking, but if adopted globally then innocently seeming “right” thinking can be catastrophic.

There are some key beliefs and thinking patterns which underlie many of the “ills” of society and of course can be evidenced on the leadership stage.  These beliefs have permeated our culture as a global society and therefore have become a paradigm which acts like a closed cell door and makes it seem difficult to get out.   Much is of course unconscious faulty thinking.   This might sound bleak, but actually by acknowledging such faulty thinking, then we are able to shine a light on this paradigm and change our beliefs and thoughts to more positive and affirming thinking which will of course create a brand new paradigm and a much brighter future.

The following set out 2 ways  we continue to exercise faulty thinking and therefore limit great changes in the world and in business

  • There is not enough to go round

The economic crisis is not yet over, and there is a cacophony of voices telling us there is recovery, and others who are predicting the end of society as we know it.  Who knows?  The whole debacle has been made by ongoing and systematic faulty thinking about our collective purpose and the possessive of money in particular.

The scarcity principle is one which is one of the most prevalent traits of faulty thinking, and one which people feel most justified in bowing down to.  But it is a faulty system, borne of faulty thinking.  There is no real scarcity in the world; we have made a system where we have bankrupted the world, businesses and individuals.  There is plenty of food to eat and there are enough resources, we have sufficient intelligence to overcome the majority of problems which arise.  We just don’t do it.  Why?  Because we believe there is scarcity, on a global, collective and individual level.  The scarcity is literally all in our mind.

For a business leader, this is a difficult one because the thought and “evidence” of scarcity through downturns in economy, reduced budgets, income etc. is compelling.  The scarcity principle is one which makes people work longer for less with little hope.

The unified alternative is to find the opportunity in any situation whether reduced economy or other situation where scarcity is the fear.  Use the experience to find ways of creating more, leveraging growth and learning to challenge beliefs and assumptions and “the way things have always been done”.

This is not rocket science. Every savvy entrepreneur knows that there are always opportunities in adversity.

  • Favoritism

There is a standing joke on the UK version of the “X Factor” involving  Louis Walsh, the long serving judge from Dublin,  who is said to favour acts from Ireland whether they have talent or not .  I think most people see it very much as harmless fun, and it always raises a laugh.   This is only a TV show, and while I’m sure some hopeful with talent might feel put out about being turned down because people with less talent have got through by virtue of their place of birth, they hopefully can get their talent recognised elsewhere.

Favouritism in other arenas and especially in the workplace has more serious connotations.   At its worst, favouritism stems from a conscious or even unconscious form of discrimination and can seem harmless, but it has far reaching effects.  At best, favouritism is simply a matter of keeping ourselves in our comfort zones, because of a fear of “difference”.

Many years ago I applied for a job.  Pitching up for the day of assessment and interviews, I was joined by 6 other hopefuls.  Of the seven of us there was one man.  We were collectively greeted by the CEO and his board, all men, and the day of interviews commenced.  I remember thinking they were doing really well because they must have recognised the overly masculine nature of their top team, and they had called 6 women to interview.  Surely they were committed to giving women a chance.  I don’t know indeed they may well have been.  The next day, I got a phone call to say that I had been an “exceptional candidate” and the board had been very impressed, but that they had decided to offer the job to another person.  I was fine, and was quite amused to note when they announced the appointment, it was the only male candidate, who was successful.  Now I’m not saying that they were discriminating against women, nor am I saying the male candidate didn’t have the best qualifications.  But I did wonder if they were pretty comfortable in their “all male” group.

Favours can consist of securing contracts, promoting, awarding bonuses, praising, promoting, spending time, allocating quality work etc. to others with little regard to contribution or effort but because they are in the “favoured few” circle.  It can mean employing family members even if they aren’t the best qualified.

The unified alternative is to be open to many different types of contribution and value them all.  To develop a framework of fairness, appreciation and reward open to all.   Be aware of, and guard against biases.  The underlying premise to this is of course that we are all equally of value in whatever situation.

There are many ways we  think in a faulty way, but if we solved those two we would have opened up a vista of opportunity, the like of which has never been seen before.

14 Comments
  1. Nice one Christina, have scooped! We need CBT for businesses – but I guess that’s what we do.

    Have you seen Linda Fisher Thornton’s excellent new book on ethics in leadership? It’s called 7 Lenses and I highly recommend it. She sent me an advance copy so you can see my review on Amazon.com if you are interested.

    Cheers

    David

  2. Too many leaders don’t understand these points. I especially appreciate your honest comments on scarcity, though there does seem to be a scarcity of good leaders. Keep writing like this and maybe we’ll fix that too.

    • Thanks Bob, I agree, and it’s one of the reasons I write as I do. I hope we do fix this kind of faulty thinking, but I’m guessing its a long haul!

      Thanks for your input!

  3. “There is not enough to go round” is a variation of one of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s excuses we all give ourselves as justification for not having done any number of important things. Including me while writing my book on change.

    How ironic to be prattling on to others about how and what they needed to do to bring about positive change in their lives, while I dilly dallied through the process, using numerous excuses to justify delays. But acknowledging that fact was a first step towards becoming less excuse more results driven.

    Not that I’m now perfect mind you; I still have my lapses. And I’d tell you what they are but just now the sun’s in my eyes, I need to rethink my toothbrush strategy, and ponder more the whole “Pluto’s not really a planet anymore” deal.

    • Haha, thanks Bill, It’s good to know I’m not alone. Sometimes it’s difficult to get past our natural inner urge to be free of the requirements of getting down to and getting stuff done :) More faulty thinking indeed!

  4. I was once turned down for a position where the board members who interviewed me said they were asking for someone to lead the change they wanted. I showed them how I could and would accomplish that. The decision came down to me and an internal candidate and if I believe what I heard from the Human Resources VP who informed me they went with the other person there was about 3 weeks of solid, often heated, debate over whom they should choose.

    I can only come to this conclusion: They valued the status quo, what they are comfortable with, more than they valued the change they said they wanted. I was disappointed with the decision but after further thought I realized they made the right choice based on what they valued most and I would have created more change than they were ready for…even if they didn’t know it yet.

    • Hi Tom, thanks for sharing. It’s an important insight, and one I’ve encountered quite a few times. People can be scared of changing too much, and they have to have the right appetite for it. I think you are right, they made the right decision, especially for you, as you would have been wholly frustrated working in an organisation who wanted change, but actually had a huge resistance to it also.

      Great insight. Thank you.

  5. It is not the poverty but the thought or feeling of being poor that needs to be treated. Socially, whatever provides an immediate recognition and superior treatment vis-a-vis others who do possess it, be it – Power, Money or Education – ‘that’ is sought after by general public. Should we just acknowledge and accept the ‘superiority’ in that particular line (field) and treat the person(s) normally in the remaining aspects of life, this ‘crazy’ drive to acquire what gains ‘additional’ recognition which is ‘vogue’ will cease.

    • Thanks Sheshagiri

      I couldn’t agree more, our state of being is so important, and something that is not taught at all in mainstream education. Thank for your insights and sharing.

    • Spot on, Sheshagiri – we should firstly be happy with who we are, what we have and who we share our professional and lives with. Then, as the second stage, let’s hope for and envisage more satisfaction, reward and enjoyment in the future…..

  6. Fascinating – looking at the favouritism angle, isn’t making decisions between options foundational? If everything is done by score sheets, weighing pros and cons and generally being very left brained, perhaps even PC, then we lose the invaluable element – the gut feelings, the intuitive insights, the intangibles that come with ‘hunch’ written all over them. And yet, these very soft skills are on the narrow margins of favouritism. The suggestion that “we are all equally of value” is counter intuitive perhaps, but looked at in the context of the abundance (not scarcity) mindset the soundness becomes evident.

    However, I have a past experience that has troubled me for some years now. Based on what were, no doubt, very good intentions, a young,competent and very ambitious office manager was appointed to a role in a very white, male, macho unit of the Met Police. I was part of sorting out the almost inevitable disaster – a race and sex discrimination case was very much a possibility. I still can’t make up my mind whether that person should have been placed in that position, and wonder where common sense sits alongside our aspirations to be fair, open and transparent. That young woman suffered severe distress, not through malice but through a deep cultural divide that should have been evident to any trained observer to be a huge risk. Thoughts, anyone?

  7. Thanks for sharing Chris. The situation sounds like it was managed really badly. It’s another blow for inclusivity when someone in a minority group shines and is then discriminated against. It would be a shameful world if there was any hesitation in giving opportunities because people working might discriminate against a successful candidate. A lack of understanding of the potential for discrimination is the culprit here I think, and steps should have been put in place to make sure she wasn’t subjected to it. (in my view anyway!).

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