11.18.11 Issue #506 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Haller, P.h. D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Leadership Illusions
Nancy Haller, Ph.D., Leadership Coach McKenzie Management

It’s likely that you’ve seen the optical illusions exercises. The most famous is the Rubin vase which depicts both a vase and two profiles of a human face. Depending on your focus, you will see the picture as two difference images. For some people it is difficult or even impossible to see both meaningful images at the same time.

Perception and awareness are truly amazing phenomena. And people never cease to be marveled by optical illusions and cognitive deception exercises. The activity provides information about how the human mind perceives and structures the world. While optical illusions can be fun and certainly interesting, they also can serve as a metaphor for leadership.

To make sense of the world, we organize incoming information in a meaningful way. But optical illusions remind us that things are not always the way they seem, even when we think we have ‘evidence’ to the contrary. That’s because the brain takes lots of short-cuts. Most of the time, these shortcuts work pretty well. The world actually does fit our perception. However, there are many times when we misperceive reality and think and act irrationally.

In terms of your effectiveness as a leader, consider the following three common distortions and whether you are inclined to misperceive reality due to:

1. A Lack of Time
The world is going at warp speed and we struggle to keep up with technology, but we all have the same 24 hours per day. How you chose to spend those hours is the issue. Are you allocating the right amount of time to the right priorities for the right reason? Irrationality also can arise when you don’t take enough time to think things through but simply respond with a knee-jerk reaction. Make time for reflection. Even just five minutes of uninterrupted thinking and planning can save you hours in the long run.

2. Ignoring Complexity
You have a lot of decisions to make every day. Most of the time, you’re right. However, when your decisions are wrong it’s likely that you didn’t consider all the relevant factors involved. This is particularly true when it comes to employee issues. Human behavior is complex. Don’t assume you know what your staff is thinking or feeling. Engage the members of staff in frequent conversations and avoid jumping to conclusions when your emotions try to hijack you.

3. A Desire to Stay Comfortable
Many times we make decisions to make ourselves happy and comfortable. Often there are elements of fear and anxiety involved as we want to avoid mistakes. Rather than trying something new, we stay stuck in doing things because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” If you want to take your practice to new levels of success, it’s likely that you need to change some things about your systems, your leadership, and your team dynamics. Remember, there is no perfection. There will be setbacks. Things will take longer than you expected. But if you stay the course, you can achieve your goal.

If you find yourself focused on the negative, if you generalize situations and people or set exceedingly high standards with overly critical self-evaluations, it’s likely that you’re experiencing the effects of cognitive illusions…or even distortions. These can turn into habitual beliefs and thought patterns that keep you trapped and prevent you from realizing your dreams. It’s time to incorporate rational reasoning into your thinking. Call me. I’m here to help.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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