Why Leaders Should Challenge Paradigms (even their own)

The greatest leaders are ones who challenge the status quo. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Aung San Suu Kyi and Sir Edmund Hillary are just a few examples of influential people throughout history who have made a real and lasting impact on the world. Why? Because they asked questions. They opposed dogmatism. They said – “there has to be a better way” – and set about finding it.

We all have our own externally imposed ‘shoulds’, ‘should nots’ and values which influence our thinking. Nothing clouds decision-making abilities more than old as the hills, set in stone, previously said, concrete engrained paradigms, principles and beliefs.

Good leadership means periodically questioning your deeply held beliefs about the way things oughtta flow – not only organisational sacred cows, but in your personal life as well.

This is not to say your beliefs don’t stand true for you, but to never question our assumptions about the world and the organisation we are part of is a sure-fire route to poor decision-making.

The best leaders question. Not only the views of others, but perhaps even more importantly, their own. This can be difficult, painful even. It may seem easier to hold on to outdated modes of thinking, because it’s safer. But the irony is, that kind of rigid thinking and being is actually less safe in the long run.

Ask yourself, what paradigms or dogmas am I stubbornly holding on to?

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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