Posted by: chrismaser | May 12, 2010


Self-deception is not necessarily lying consciously to yourself; it can be subtle and unconscious. Your motivation for deception, as a leader, is the need to make the relationship with followers both worthwhile and productive. Your need to see change in the form of forward movement may blur reality and cause you to be less discerning than is wise because your role as a leader carries with it an investment of succeeding as a leader.

What would happen if you had the sense you were a flop as a leader? Your need to feel instrumental in assisting others to lead fuller lives is partly based on your own need to feel you are making a significant difference in the world, a need that can and does lead to self-deception.

At such times, you may look for evidence of progress, however slim, and rationalize away any elements of failure. In doing so, you give yourself credit for the apparent progress when it may be largely due to another variable, something unrelated to your leadership. When you understand that success or failure is not the event in and of itself, but rather your interpretation of the event, you can be more honest with yourself and consciously explore the phenomenon of self-deception and thus lessen the chance of its occurrence, which in turn lessens the likelihood of becoming over-invested in your constituency.

Series on Leadership Challenges:

Return to the First Set of Posts

• Over-Investment In Followers

• The Value Of Humor

• Coping With Someone You Dislike

• Imagine Yourself As Different People

• Inspiring Performance

• Nurturing Creativity

• Making Do With What You Have

• Establishing Realistic Objectives

• The Need For Urgency

• Give Counsel, Not Advice

• The Questions We Ask

• Burnout

• Leadership Within Organizations

Text © by Chris Maser, 2010. All rights reserved.

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This article is excerpted from my 1998 book, Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Development. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 235 pp. It is updated in my 2012 book, Decision Making For A Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book, want to purchase it, or want to contact me—visit my website.

If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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