Just re-read Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Group, The best book on leadership I have ever read. Required reading for all of my clients.

It teaches leaders that they betray their core values (primarily by seeing people as objects vs. people trying to meet core needs) they no longer see objectively. I call this living inside your bubble (they use a “box” metaphor) that distorts reality. Others look stupid or lazy or some other projection.

The problem for leaders is that everyone knows when the leader is in a box/bubble – they are judging, blaming and complaining, etc. and they get defensive and do all kinds of stupid things. The leader’s belief about his or her team becomes self-fulfilling. After all, if you are the smartest in the room, everyone else has to remain stupid to keep the dynamic alive.

What gets a leader to the top is not what makes him stay there. What got him there is most often hard work, drive, ambition and intelligence. What they need to succeed is the ability to be in relationship with others.

The way out of the box is to focus on the feelings and needs of others, to meet their need to be seen. This means slowing down and build rapport. It’s not to say that being a hard ass isn’t appropriate some time, it’s just that a one-gear leader is very limited, especially when it comes to inspiring, teaching and scaling.