4 Pervasively Common Beliefs Among Engineering Leaders that Hold Them Back

“Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.”—Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

Everyone in a leadership role brings with them a set of beliefs they hope will guide them and their teams. Yet, as a leader, you should recognize when a fervently held idea of belief no longer applies to your new role. Here are four common beliefs that will only hold you back.

  1. Failure Isn’t an Option

“My best successes came on the heels of failures.”—Barbara Corcoran

Too often leaders mistake acceptance of failure as acceptance of incompetence. A true leader is someone who supports a team or colleague who failed during an attempt to achieve great things. If you hold your team to a standard of perfection, then you will find a team afraid to take risks.

  1. Know Everything

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.”—Sara Blakely, Spanx

Some leaders are afraid to say, “I don’t know.” By itself, the phrase doesn’t seem very leader-like. But what about this: “I don’t know. Let’s find the answer.” Your colleagues don’t expect you to know everything; indeed, they would prefer a leader who leaned on her team for answers (that’s why teams exist after all) over the one who pretended to know everything.

  1. Don’t Ever Let Go

You can’t build any kind of organization if you’re not going to surround yourself with people who have experience and a skill base beyond your own.”—Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman, Starbucks

The company won’t fail if you’re not involved in every single meeting or decision. In fact, your team would prefer you to let them do their jobs from time to time. Hire well, and let the greatness which now surrounds you get to work.

  1. Criticism is Disloyal

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary.”—Winston Churchill

If you never make a mistake or bad decision, then, sure, push back on criticism. But back in reality, you will make many mistakes as a leader. Sometimes, the only way to rectify the mistake is to have someone call you on it. Let him or her, and be thankful that he or she did. Also, consider reframing “criticism” as “creative tension.” That perspective promotes a constructive way of thinking, instead of increasing possible conflict.

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