Leaders frequently become frustrated because those who are meant to follow; employees, constituents, members, followers, etc., often don’t see things the same as they do. Consequently, divisions and divisiveness occur which almost always results in lack of progress.
While creating alignment behind a single vision has always been a challenge I believe these days it is getting progressively worse. Particularly because there is so much being thrown at us nowadays. There is so much media and the content of much of it is dubious at best. People have an overload of communications fighting for their attention. I think one of the real negatives is “reality TV”, which is anything but real, and seems to have warped our sense of what is real and what isn’t. The only reality about it is that people are being filmed in real time. But that’s not to say they don’t have a script, direction, and desired outcome. It is often simply very raw versions of bad sitcoms created for the purpose of “entertainment.” We are also addicted, at varying degrees of dysfunction, to our social media channels. As we have recently been made aware, not all is as it seems on these platforms and “fake news,” “opinion-based news” and “real news” are so mixed up in people’s online feeds that everyone’s version of events and facts is a little warped.
So let’s talk about why this matters for leadership. As a leader, your strategy, goals, and success depend upon understanding situations correctly. To understand a situation correctly, you need to know the facts. And contrary to much of what we are hearing these days, facts rarely have two versions. There is only the “fact.” Webster’s definition is “a thing that is indisputably the case.” And much like events that I discussed in my post, “Events Are Neutral,” facts in and of themselves are neutral. We interpret what they mean and/or how they came to be, but when something “is,” it’s pretty hard to dispute it.
As leaders, if we don’t know the facts or refuse to accept the facts, we tend to make bad decisions or act on bad information and that takes us further away from our goals. Facts act as a foundation to our plans and if they are incorrect, we are usually on shaky ground and end up going nowhere, or in a bad direction. Leadership requires you to know your facts and if you don’t, surround yourself with people you trust who can get you those facts. Your credibility and ultimate success depend upon it. Companies, nations, and organizations have all gone down in infamy from believing the wrong “facts.” Enron, Wells Fargo, Jim Jones, WMD, Volkswagon, etc., just to name a few. You don’t want your name or your companies name on that list so ask a few more questions to dig for the facts and insist that your people can back up their claims and recommendations before moving forward.