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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

The Lies We Tell

(If you haven’t seen the movie A Few Good Men then this photo will not resonate, but for all that have, I couldn’t resist!)

Lolly Daskal, the author of many great leadership books, including the Leadership Gap, talks about the frequent lies that leaders tell themselves, which are just that, lies. Sometimes it is out of protection; other times, fear or ignorance. Either way, the only way to outrun the lies is, to be honest with how you show up and the stories you tell yourself. Couple that with intentional bravery to become an exceptional leader, and you will be well on your way!

The stories we tell protect us from the truth and temporarily ease our way. This tactic does create short-term relief but never long-term gain.

So why do we do this? Typically we believe we are incapable of handling the brutal reality; we don’t have the skill, the leverage, the connections, or the talent. (We “can’t handle the truth!”) We don’t have the inner strength to endure the fire. In turn, we create barriers to protect us.

I believe you are stronger than you think.

Daskal’s top lies leaders tell themselves are: (and my interpretation of what is behind these lies)

  1. I am in control (I am not strong enough to handle a failure)

  2. I can do this on my own (If I collaborate, others will see my weaknesses)

  3. I don’t have time (I am unable to set healthy boundaries)

  4. If I ignore it, it will go away (I can’t have difficult conversations)

  5. I always know best (My ego is more important than you or the team)

  6. I’m a good listener (I already know what you are going to say)

  7. My ego does not get in the way (I am too afraid to let you see me)

  8. Everybody does it (I don’t want to take responsibility because it is too hard)

  9. People don’t need praise (I don’t like feeling vulnerable))

  10. Emotion is weakness (You will see I am human and have flaws and fears)

  11. Sometimes you have to cut corners to get ahead (I choose not to take the time to do it correctly)

  12. I’m not here to make friends (I am afraid you will take advantage of our relationship)

Pick up any leadership book, and it will say the same thing, so why do leaders continue to hold on to the lies that ultimately hurt them and their team? What is so powerful that they overlook research, scholars, and experts… fear.

As a leadership coach, I have heard every one of these lies and my experience tells me that fear is the underlying driver. Putting these lies to rest requires humility and introspection.

Quieting the lies requires you to think differently and show up with curiosity instead of answers.

Many of us rose the ranks from “doing” great things. We could “do” twice as fast, think quickly, implement accurately, and were 100% reliable. Once you move into leadership, the playing field changes, and, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. You are not being hired to “do” but rather to implement your wisdom, think strategically, position others, and leverage talents. It is no longer about you; “success” as you saw it is now measured by how OTHERS “do”, not you.

As Andy Stanley noted on a podcast episode titled The Motivation of a Leader Stanley notes, When it comes to leadership, the personal economics look bad. This is because a leader will always give away more than they get. The role of a leader is about being, not doing.”

Leadership is a skill and one which is learned and never mastered. It is also not for everyone; success in a job does not make you a leader, it makes you successful at your job.

If you are in a leadership position and these lies dominate your mindset, I would challenge you to ask yourself:

  • Why you want to be in a leadership position. What is your motivation?

  • Are you prepared to admit what you don’t know and partner with others to learn?

  • What are the top lies you tell yourself, and what might you do to address them?

Visit my website at to learn more tools and start the journey toward exceptional leadership.

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