Try changing someone’s mind. Even trying with a trivial matter, is formidable. Now try changing your boss’s mind. Add in the authority, experience, and most likely an emotional connection to a process or product and the task becomes virtually impossible. Even in the face of substantial evidence, hard data, and consensus among the rest of the team many leaders still fail to change their minds. If you need examples of what this looks like take a look at television shows like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, The Profit with Marcus Lemonis, or Shark Tank. These shows are filled with owners, inventors, and entrepreneurs that can’t look objectively at anything to make the right decision. People can be so determined to stick with how they want things to be that they will literally go out of business because of it.
Except when a CEO is making decisions, large organizations absorb the adverse effects of stubborn leaders. They are usually less evident, and without that instant negative feedback a poor business decision will normally come with, like a decrease in sales. Many of these people are good people trying to do the best they can. It is tough for experienced and high-level people to admit they don’t know everything. And often, this approach is based on their ambition to promote or succeed. They will try to limit risk. I covered this topic in an article HERE. Essentially, being stubborn destroys any positive culture there may be in the organization. It replaces it with a culture of mistrust, low energy, high employee turnover rate, low morale, and most of all frustration. Even when these leaders are making the right decisions, if they aren’t listening and adjusting to input from their people, the same frustrations occur.
Unfortunately, the only real solution for the people who work for one of these leaders is to try to stay positive, know your worth and don’t give up. Don’t go in full force and try to change their minds; this will only cement their opinion. Instead take a softer approach, give them your opinion, and then move on.
If you are a leader, you must take the time to self-reflect and ask yourself if you are stubborn. Be honest with yourself and use real-life examples to support both sides of the argument. Try a round of 360-degree feedback if you are struggling with self-reflection. It is not easy to admit you are not good at something but there are few things more important than trying to be the best for your people. The best thing to try is to purposefully incorporate ideas from your team into your decision-making and make sure you give them credit. Even at the cost of some productivity or sales. It will be worth it in the long run.