The White Knight Syndrome

Posted by on Dec 24, 2013 in Business, Leadership, New | 0 comments

white knight

As a leader it is easy to think that we alone possess all anyone needs to know; to think that our view of the world is the right one. After all, the view looks pretty good from where we sit. We’ve thought everything through. We have access to more information than anyone else. We have a way of doing things and it works—for us. So what rational person would question you? What could they possibly know that you don’t?

We can get a little self-important and think that we need to mount our white horse and begin a crusade to save the kingdom—charging through the organization bringing everyone in line with our way of thinking and our way of doing things. We know best and if they can see it, well then, they’re wrong. But before we do we should consider these questions:

Is this about me? Of course not. But before you get on your high horse, ask yourself if the issue is truly a right-wrong issue or simply a matter of opinion or approach? No one likes to be questioned, but the questions serve as a tool to help us grow. They keep us in check. If we’re not being questioned, we have an even bigger problem. We have made our leadership about us—and everyone around us knows it. Only we are deluded enough to think otherwise.

Is there a connection I can build on? Find connection with the other side—even if you have only their intentions to consider. Rarely is anyone going out of their way to do the wrong thing. Most often it is their execution that is bad. Their timing can also be at the core of the problem. All these things can be fixed without diminishing the other side. Finding areas where you agree gives you something to build on and shows respect.

Am I motivated by the desire to establish my authority? If you have to correct someone, you should never leave them there. As a leader, your job is to build up not to put down. There are times when you have to correct but it should only be done in an effort to grow others and not to control them. If correction is about control, it’s about you—and you’ve lost before you’ve even gotten out of the gate.

Most crusades are about ego. They are designed to leverage differences. Stamp out opposition. Differences of opinion and approach serve to sharpen us, grow us, and open our thinking. If it is different it will make you uncomfortable. But that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. Growth is risky, uncomfortable, and messy. Over time our own thinking numbs us if it is not challenged. It desensitizes us to the reality around us.

The most valuable people we have around us are those people who are willing to question us, consider another approach, and test our assumptions. We need these people if we are to grow into the leader we could be. It’s not about us.

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