208-376-1701 bryan@bryanyager.com

First a quote: “If our egos get in the way of leadership effectiveness, it does not matter how right we are, or were, in the decisions we make, or the actions we take.” – Bryan Yager

Good morning and happy Monday!

I once heard a comedian offer the following one-liner: “Husbands who are always right…  are soon left.” I remember both smiling and chuckling at this insightful bit of humor. Unfortunately, that statement is one of those “truths” that probably hits too close to home for many of us in our most important relationships.

Please note, this article is not about marriage, husbands, or wives for that matter. (Although it applies to all three.) It is about any person, in any relationship! The words in that bit of levity are also true between friends, co-workers, family members, and certainly between leaders and the teams they lead.

I recently heard a senior manager proclaim: “I’m never wrong.” I waited for an accompanying smile indicating the words were intended with a touch of sarcasm, or a dash of humor. That was not the case, not even a hint of a smile would follow. This person was dead serious about the absolute correctness of their decisions, actions, and manner of working.

While “being right” is obviously important in many/most decisions, that internal desire to always be right, and to be unyielding in that rightness, can become a destructive acid in most relationships over time. The manager referenced above was abandoned by her team in a crisis of shattered trust.

It is almost like the title picture today; people who are afflicted by this, almost subconscious, need to always be right will find themselves (and their relationships) weighed down by a metaphorical ball and chain. Individuals with this infliction are often prisoners of their own thinking. Their most important relationships soon become cold, distant, unsatisfying, and in the work environment, non-productive.

As the comedian said of husbands, “Leaders who are always right, will also soon be left.”

Warning signs that you might be one of “those people”:

  • You frequently feel defensive when people offer conflicting ideas or points of view. 
  • You have an almost uncontrollable desire to defend your thinking and decisions. 
  • You reject the ideas of others without consideration, exploration, or acknowledgment. 
  • You rarely thank the people who have the courage to offer ideas, solutions, and thinking that run contrary to your own. 
  • You do not thank people for offering critical feedback. 
  • People stop sharing their ideas with you. 
  • There is a lack of “back & forth” discussion, or debate, around alternate ideas and/or solutions. 
  • Staff meetings become unusually uncomfortable and quiet. 
  • People are in a hurry to be “someplace else” at the conclusion of almost every meeting. 
  • There is very little “idea-based conflict” in your meetings. 
  • Conversations frequently feel distant and cool. 
  • There is a noticeable lack of trust in all directions. 
  • Team members avoid social interactions when at all possible. People start eating lunch at their desks in avoidance of others. 
  • There is little personal sharing between team members.

If you find some of the bullet points above describe you, or your situation, you may be too focused on being right, and not focused enough on getting it right.

A desire to always be right can stifle creativity amongst the team, and can make other people, who may have valuable insights to contribute, more hesitant to offer creative solutions and important feedback.

Leaders who are willing to listen to their teams often have stronger team engagement, and reach better conclusions, then teams where only the boss’s input is considered.

Related MMM articles:

How will you live, love, or lead differently, or better this coming week?


Bryan Yager
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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Bonus Quotes:

  • “I am not interested in being right. But I am very interested in getting it right.” – Joseph Connor Yager 
  • “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” – Peter McIntyre 
  • “He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.” ― Michel de Montaigne 
  • “The more a person needs to be right, the less certain he is.” ― Meir Ezra 
  • “There is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.” ― Edward Abbey