Technology gives society the false idea that is perfectWe live in a society that has, in large part due to technology, been hoodwinked into the beliefs that each of us knows everything, sees everything, understands everything, and is an expert about everything.

In other words, most of us never give – because we don’t have to – everybody the benefit of the doubt.

More of us have been entrapped by this fallacy than we might believe. Before we jump in – this is one of the signs that we are in the majority of the entrapped – and say, “That doesn’t apply to me!” let’s examine what it not applying to us looks like.

We may be surprised at what we find if we’re willing to listen and are willing to be honest with ourselves. Unfortunately, those traits are very rare anymore because most of us are convinced that we already know all the answers so there’s nothing else that we can learn.

Learning and the change and growth that comes from that, my friends, is at the heart of unquintessential leadership.

However, if we believe we already know everything and there’s nothing else for us to learn, then that is our death kneel to becoming quintessential leaders. We will never become quintessential leaders if this is our mindset and our attitude going in.

It is in this aspect of the societal tendency to not give the benefit of the doubt that quintessential leaders stand out from everybody else.

benefit-of-the-doubt-wordsQuintessential leaders distinguish themselves as being willing to give the benefit of the doubt to other people by what they are and what they understand about themselves and what they don’t do.

Quintessential leaders are humble. They do not elevate themselves in their own minds nor do they try to elevate themselves in others’ minds.

They’re not always clamoring for people to look at them or to be the center of attention. They understand that it’s never “all about me,” but instead quintessential leaders understand it’s “all about others, and in reality, very little in life is actually about me.”

Social media has done a lot to destroy humility in general.

All the selfies and “Hey, look at me!” tweets, instagrams, and status updates have played right into the pride, vanity, and narcissism that seems to be hardwired into human nature. 

To achieve, maintain, and grow in humility, then, in this environment of easy self-centeredness and self-absorption, takes constant, diligent, and honest effort along with persistent self-control.

Quintessential leaders exercise self-control and they are constantly inventorying themselves: their attitudes, their motives, their thoughts, their words, and their actions.

As a result, quintessential leaders know their limitations and they know their strengths and weaknesses and that leads them to give the benefit of the doubt to others.

What does giving the benefit of the doubt to other people look like in quintessential leaders? (The opposite of these are what unquintessential leadership and not giving the benefit of the doubt look like.)

Quintessential leaders recognize we are not omniscient. We can’t read minds. We can’t read hearts. We don’t know The Great Gatsby's symbol for omniscienceeverything about everything.

Quintessential leaders don’t know everybody. We don’t know everything about everybody And while quintessential leaders may be experts in a few areas, we are not experts in everything.

And we are certainly not experts on everybody, because we know we aren’t even experts on ourselves (in other words, there’s a lot about ourselves that we don’t even know).

Therefore, because quintessential leaders know we are not omniscient, we are not always at the ready with answers for everybody about everything with the understood premise that these are the right answers and these are the only answers.

Quintessential leaders know that is the height of vanity and foolishness.

Life and people are way, way more complicated than that and none of us mere mortals is up to the challenge of knowing everything about there is to know about everyone and everything.

Because they listen to hear instead of running roughshod over everybody else to talk more loudly and to make and remake their point because they’re right and it’s so important that Jumping to conclusionseverybody knows it, quintessential leaders don’t jump to conclusions.

Quintessential leaders understand that jumping to conclusions will always lead us down the furthest path from the truth. And it will damage, sometimes irreparably, our relationships with other people because it creates chasms and builds walls, instead of building bridges.

Quintessential leaders understand that there is an unknown backstory behind every human being and that our experiences in life are customized and unique, so they don’t make presumptions and assumptions based on their backstories and their life experiences.

PresumptionSince quintessential leaders aren’t living life from a self-centered and self-absorbed perspective, we don’t inject ourselves and our lives into the lives of other people by being presumptive and making assumptions.

AssumptionBeing presumptive and making assumptions are another sure way to go down a path that is the furthest from the truth. And this damages relationships too. Sometimes beyond repair in this lifetime.

Quintessential leaders are not quick to accuse and are not quick to criticize other people. 

While quintessential leaders evaluate behavior (actions and words) at the highest ethical and moral standards and are responsible for bringing that behavior to light and correcting it by coaching, they are careful not to personally quick to accuseattack the people who have the behavior that needs to be corrected by accusation and criticism.

This is probably the most difficult part of giving the benefit of the doubt. We who are striving to be quintessential leaders fail in this part, hopefully not regularly, more than we should.

Being quick to criticize and being quick to accuse other people quick to accuseshows a lack of mercy and this will also lead quintessential leaders down the furthest path from truth and it will damage – almost certainly beyond the ability to fix in this life – the relationships.

There is an constructive, big-picture method that quintessential leaders use to coach toward correct behavior.

Very few people know and understand this method, nor are more than a small minority adept at it. And, of course, there are always people who just don’t care.

Coaching a wrong, misguided, or negative behavior looks like this:

  • This is wrong (misguided, negative).
  • This is why (concrete facts, not feelings).
  • This is what you replace that with (concrete facts, not feelings).
  • This is the framework of what it looks like, step-by-step, from start to finish (the big picture).
  • I’ll be right here beside you to guide and help you, as you need me, through the process (investment in the process).
  • We’ll succeed (common shared goal).

Unfortunately the “reward” of quick accusation and quickly criticizing other people on a personal, below-the-belt level is much more attractive and much stronger to the majority of people than the reward of actually offering to invest in the process of coaching and helping someone change and correct a behavior.

So the time has come for us to look into our own quintessential leader mirrors to see if we strive all the time to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t look at anybody else. This is about you and your mirror. This is about me and my mirror.

I can’t change anybody else, but I can certainly change me. You can’t change anybody else, but you can certainly change you.

Do we usually give other people the benefit of the doubt?

Do we give the people we like and/or are most like us in personality, temperament, background, and interests the benefit of the doubt, but not the people we don’t like and/or who are unlike us in personality, temperament, background, and interests?

Do we never give anyone the benefit of the doubt?

We need to look in our mirrors closely, honestly, and rigorously to answer these questions. 

Do we have the character, the desire or the courage to look in our mirrors, or will we assume it doesn’t apply to us and on go on doing what we’ve always done.

I have the character. I have the courage. I have the desire.

Do you?

Comments
  1. […] rare exceptions to this general trend. We know our areas of expertise, but equally important, we know our limitations even in those areas as well as our limitations in all the other areas where we are either not […]

  2. […] should be apparent that a subjective person has an approach that includes bias, narcissism, self-absorption, and […]

  3. […] As quintessential leaders, then, we need to now look deeply into and closely at ourselves to see if and where self-promotion exists. If and where we find it, we need to immediately change, replacing this unquintessential leader trait with the quintessential leader trait of humility. […]

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