Retain your lucidity despite the isolation of leadership

N°239a – Synopsis (8p.) – Open-mindedness
Retain your lucidity despite the isolation of leadership
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Retaining a sense of lucidity about ourselves and the situations we manage is all the more difficult when we are in a leadership position. So how can we preserve our capacity for judgment?

The press regularly reports examples of talented leaders who have gone surprisingly astray and made flagrantly erroneous decisions, despite having demonstrated uncommon leadership abilities up to that point.

Ron Johnson, for example, took the helm at JCPenney after remarkable achievements at Target and subsequently at Apple. Hired to breathe new life into the century-old U.S. retail chain, he quickly devised a bold strategy. Certain data should have incited him to be prudent. Nevertheless, he refused to undertake pilot operations, and deliberately chose to roll out the new strategy on a massive scale. As a result, sales fell by 30%, and he was ousted just seventeen months after arriving. Similarly, Steve Jobs, during internal battles against his right-hand man, John Sculley, overestimated his support within the board of directors, leading to his forced departure from the company in 1985.

These examples are far from atypical. They reflect a major risk to which leaders are exposed: an overly deferent entourage, the obligation to defer to others, or the need to rely on information filtered by third parties can easily lead to blindness. The authors that we have selected stress the importance for leaders to be on the lookout for what may distort their judgment. They suggest many avenues for leaders to actively reinforce their lucidity.

- Be careful to stay in regular touch with the field to limit the risks of receiving distorted information.

- Adopt the discipline of regularly challenging your convictions to prevent them from becoming blinkers.

- Surround yourself with people who can identify and point out your potential errors of judgment.

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