Are You Lying to Yourself About Your Leadership?

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 7.43.20 AMWe all try to think well of ourselves, but there are lies we can tell ourselves that do harm to ourselves. Maybe we fear being vulnerable, but we end up insulating ourselves from truths we need, and the cost is high.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these untruths? If so, it may be time to have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself:

1. I am in control. Control is an illusion. As a leader, you must allow yourself to drop the illusion of control and let your leadership lead you. Focus on the things you can control and let the rest go.

2. I can do this on my own. No one does anything alone. No matter what accomplishments you have achieved, you didn’t do it on your own. It takes a great team, a wonderful group of talented people to make an impact. Ask yourself who has contributed to your success.

3. I don’t have time. Time is precious—for everyone, and maybe especially so for leaders—but there is always time in the day for what is important. Telling yourself you can’t meet a priority because of time is just making excuses.

4. If I ignore it, it will go away. It’s sad but true: there are times we all still fall for this old lie. Most of the time what we ignore grows bigger and becomes even more cumbersome. Whatever is happening, deal with it. You can’t change what you refuse to confront.

5. I always know best. Really, is that the truth? Leadership is about inclusion and learning, not about being right. Not all leaders know what’s best or have the all the answers, and the best focus on continuing to learn and grow. If you think you know, look around to see where you can ask more questions.

6. I’m a good listener. There’s a big difference between truly listening and waiting patiently for your turn to speak. One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. And for leaders, the art of conversation lies in listening.

7. My ego does not get in the way. Nothing destroys leadership faster than ego. The next time you feel yours getting out of check—which can happen to any of us once in a while—remember that nobility doesn’t lie in being superior to anyone else but, but in growing beyond the person you once were.

8. Everybody does it. It’s a leader’s responsibility to know the difference between right and wrong, no matter what anybody else says or does. You can never be right by doing wrong, and you can never be wrong by doing right.

9. People don’t need praise. We may like to think that people operate independently of our actions. But when people don’t get enough recognition, when they feel nobody cares, a big part of their motivation vanishes. What you praise increases; what you ignore becomes invisible and ineffective.

10. Emotion is weakness. Some leaders want to hold themselves beyond emotion to appear strong. But to share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable, and to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength. The best leaders touch hearts, and that truth always works.

11. Sometimes you have to cut corners to get ahead. The only way to lead is to lead with integrity and high standards. Always put your best foot forward—life is too short to waste it by living below your standards.

12. I’m not here to make friends. The old school of leadership will tell you that leaders can’t be friends because it may lead to favoritism. But like friendship, true leadership involves selflessness and concern for the well-being of others, acting for their benefit rather than personal gain.

There will always be lies we tell ourselves, but self-awareness requires that we look beyond them to discover the truth about ourselves and those around us.

Honesty costs nothing, and lying could cost you everything. When you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past. When you lie, it becomes a part of your future

Lead from within: Lies are often temporary solutions to permanent problem. Listen to the lies you speak and learn how to tell yourself the truth.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo: Getty

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Susan Mary Malone

    26. Jan, 2016

    We all can fall into these traps, Lolly. Love the comprehensive list!
    I recently heard a quote from Fr. Richard Rohr, addressing #1. He said the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is control.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Caleb

    26. Jan, 2016

    Really good information, thanks for sharing. This will help me communicate better with my workers!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Janice Butts

    27. Jan, 2016

    The title grabbed me immediately. All good stuff. Every point you make is valid and your follow up is poignant. Thanks

    Reply to this comment
  4. Bruce Fisher

    27. Jan, 2016

    Very well done—concise and to the point.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Steve Spicer

    27. Jan, 2016

    Well done!
    Lolly, you have captured this “Lie/Truth” exercise for leaders very well! Thank you!
    In our ministry we place a great deal of emphasis on this leadership behavior; i.e., separating the “lies from the truth” within ourselves. As Christians, Jesus is the Truth and how great it is to focus on Him!
    Thank you again for sharing your TOP 12 … good job!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Paula Dickson

    28. Jan, 2016

    Every one who considers themselves a leader should read this and take it to heart. It is so easy to fall into these traps. The sad part is we fall so deep that we really believe.

    Reply to this comment
  7. john

    28. Jan, 2016

    This is a great list. There are a lot of passive and defensive styles that come out of the old performance management processes that reinforce these blind spots. It makes one wonder how many leaders have people who start the day with purpose and finish with any sense of accomplishment.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Gabriel Njonjo

    31. Jan, 2016


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  9. Eullah

    03. Feb, 2016

    Once again you prove that you mean a lot to me….
    I was reading your blog as much as possible and only by listening to you, I am being more matured.

    By reading all those, I have decided to leave my present company by trading off my postion and now I am heading to Nestle.

    Respect Lolly !!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Lori A. King

    03. Feb, 2016

    Hi Lolly,
    Great list to remember as we go through our days. Sure, I have slipped on many of these, I’m human; but I am not telling myself lies. Leadership isn’t a destination, it’s a process. If we remember that, it will help us stay on track.
    Thanks, I always enjoy your insight.

    Reply to this comment
  11. ben odoi

    17. Feb, 2016

    the content you share have power of changing minds

    Reply to this comment
  12. Nabil.M

    17. Feb, 2016

    Internal leadership, to myself , in order to be successful. It requires not lying to oneself. I love success. So I do not like to lie to myself.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Chris Banzet

    22. Feb, 2016

    There’s one important dynamics though, which I feel is genuinely missing here. First, let me say, this is “well written” and “spot on” with some of the quirky thoughts leaders think. But there is one “human element” that never seems to actually make it into these types of articles, but absolutely is true in the real life unfolding of challenges leadership faces.

    Leaders don’t know “everything” and sometimes, we just simply make an earnest mistake!

    There’s some leaders who just cannot accept the reality that we all make mistakes. Sometimes, we’re just blind to evidence that normally we would not miss. Other times, it is something “completely” out of our realm and we just simply didn’t know it!

    This isn’t “incompetency” this is human experience at its best! In fact, I think one of the “greatest” levels of awareness that upper executives seem to lose the essence of value in, is that no matter how good we become, we’re “still human”!

    If you are “aware” of something, and find yourself in one of the numbers above, then by all means, please listen to the strategies here. But, also take number 5 above “I always know best” and split that into a secondary part.. “sometimes, I totally didn’t know or see that coming at all” as Lolly mentions, Truth is one of the strongest characters a leader has! But, the sad part is, there’s a lot of people out there who have a HIGH level of integrity when interacting with others, but not such a high level of integrity when being honest with the man in the mirror…:)

    Reply to this comment
  14. Ramji

    13. Mar, 2016

    It’s help me to find my inner voice!!! Thank you for it!!!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Williamapob

    06. May, 2016

    God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

    Reply to this comment
  16. Heather

    28. May, 2016

    Great reality check. If all into the “ignore it it will go away” trap.
    I have trouble with that one because Of the saying, whatever you think about, you bring about”…for example debt. Debt is something that eludes me. Ignore it, it gets bigger, focus on it, it gets bigger…so what do you suggest?

    Reply to this comment
  17. thirteen 88 marketing

    04. Jun, 2016

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with
    your RSS. I don’t understand why I am unable to subscribe
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    Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond?

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  18. Han Geurdes

    30. Jun, 2016

    Good post.

    Reply to this comment
  19. danmo

    05. Aug, 2016

    This article need to be read regularly by leaders.In other words leaders ought not stick to what they learnt but to what they daily learn.We all tend to commit one or more mistakes and assume we are right and unchallenged which is a big lie.Your leadership blogs are definately among the best.Thank you Lolly Daskal.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Martin Haworth

    04. Oct, 2016

    I’d add. ‘People are all the same.’ If I show up and spend time with them and be consistent, they will do well. Your people are all different and each requires bespoke support, from the ‘Just leave it for me to get on with’, to ‘Help! I have simply no idea what to do next.’ Leaders need to understand people well enough to meet their needs.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Vishal Garg

    05. Nov, 2016

    Hi lolly

    Very nice blog.

    Basically Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations

    I am Also agree with your point

    I’m a good listener. There’s a big difference between truly listening and waiting patiently for your turn to speak. One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. And for leaders, the art of conversation lies in listening

    Reply to this comment
  22. Sanaul Haque

    22. Dec, 2016

    < Yes, Golden Madam, LOLLY : Honesty Best Policy,
    Wish Prosperous New Year

    Reply to this comment
  23. Hamilton Lindley

    24. May, 2019

    It’s so important to read these because when I find myself slipping into one of these actions, I need to pull myself out. Common sense is uncommon. This is a helpful set of guidelines to understand whether I am on the right track.

    Reply to this comment
  24. Steve Errey

    10. Sep, 2019


    A lot of leaders seem to have the belief or assumption that they need to be super-human somehow. They can’t be fallible. They can’t make a mistake. They can’t be seen as weak.

    That’s BS of course, just a way to avoid the vulnerability and discomfort that comes with leadership.

    I think the best leaders understand this. They own their weaknesses, flaws and mistakes instead of using bluff or bluster or arrogance to cover them up.

    Reply to this comment
  25. Osman Alhassan

    13. Sep, 2020

    Honesty costs nothing, and lying could cost you everything. When you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past. When you lie, it becomes a part of your future.

    I like this part of the article. Because lies is a predators that hunt you even after your death.

    Reply to this comment

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