Unlocking Leadership Mind-traps – A Review

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This book by Jennifer Garvey Berger covers five quirks or traps that leaders might fall into that have potentially serious performance consequences.

I have put the traps in my own order, so that I can use the mnemonic of RACES to remember them…..

  1. Trapped by Rightness – just because something feels right, doesn’t make it so!
  2. Trapped by Agreement – sometimes our desire to agree can have us miss opportunities for useful conflict.
  3. Trapped by Control – which paradoxically has you lose influence.
  4. Trapped by Ego – how can you grow into something better, when you are stuck in who you are now?
  5. Trapped by Simple stories – these simple stories we tell ourselves (and anyone else that will listen) – often about what others’ motives are for the way they interact with us – are usually removed further from any sort of truth by their very oversimplification.

The book itself was part text and part fictional story bringing the ideas to life. Although this made it easy to read, I did have to move past the fact that one of the traps was avoiding oversimplification and here, weaved through the book was a simple story. Probably indeed overly so. However, that is more about the w*nker I can be than much of substance perhaps.

In the trap about agreement the idea of “disagreeing to expand” was suggested. Yes, my critic jumped up here again, with a bit of “seriously who the hell disagrees to expand for real, not just on some corporate role play?”. So I put it to the test, in a work relationship that I was really struggling with. I figured it couldn’t get much worse as I was at the point of fantasizing about an exit by any means ethical or otherwise, a little like a poor marriage.

So I disagreed to expand. I went into a difficult conversation, I would normally avoid like the plague itself, with a vague idea of a better relationship afterward. It worked. Who knew? Thanks Jennifer.

The book’s subtitle is ‘how to thrive in complexity’, this was fully addressed in that Berger explained that in straight forward environments the traps are not such an issue. I began to wonder how I might tell what situations were simple and what were complex. But probably overthinking again.

The last section offered a series of steps or a ladder out of the traps. The key to this was connecting to the purpose. I was fully on-board by then and indeed ready for the story to end.

Do have a read if you are a leader or work with leaders. I am certain you will find something to take home.

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Photo by Nandhu Kumar from Pexels

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