Mindtraps: The Leadership Curse

Woman on beach in light bulb

Written by Laurie Hillis

Hi, I’m Laurie Hillis, I love what I do: the learning, the process, and above all, seeing how my clients grow as leaders.


August 24, 2020

Reading is my passion. Learning something new, sharing it and seeing the impact on others when jump into their own newness is a true joy.

One of my favourite reads in the past couple of years was “Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity” (2019) by Jennifer Garvey Berger.

She writes about habits of minds that get in the way leaders being successful. She likens it to the thought that we have old operating systems in our minds that are not built for today’s complexity (and this book was written pre-Covid-19). Our navigational compasses are no longer helpful because they take us back to previous experiences that don’t inform today.

In her research she discovered five of the most “pernicious and pervasive” of these Mindtraps:

  1. We are trapped by simple stories. Our desire for a simple story blinds us to a real one.
  2. We are trapped by rightness. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right.
  3. We are trapped by agreement. Longing for alignment robs us of good ideas.
  4. We are trapped by control. Trying to take charge strips us of influence.
  5. We are trapped by our ego. Shackled to who we are now, we can’t reach for who we’ll be next.

Want a new superpower? Figure out how to escape these mindtraps to enable new opportunities and solutions. Here are some key questions to guide your escape and create new habits:

5 mindtrap pictures
  1. Simple stories:  rather than holding onto the one “right simple story” stay curious and create more possible stories by developing at least three different ones.
  2. Rightness:  face it, we all long to be right, it makes us feel confident and comfortable.  Instead, ask yourself “what do I believe and how could I be wrong”?
  3. Agreement:  if you are like me, rumbling with conflict is never pleasant.  Ask yourself “how could this conflict serve to deepen a relationship”?
  4. Control:  in complexity we have to let go of craving control and shift to influence.  Ask yourself  “what can I help enable? what could enable me”?
  5. Ego:  one of the strongest traps is created by the person we are wanting to seem to be to ourselves and to others – our ego creates this persona and we protect our identity.  Rather than get locked in, ask yourself “who do I want to be next”?

If you want to know more I highly recommend pickup or download this thought-provoking and very practical read. Break those chains of habits that no longer serve you. Contact me today if you’d like to know more about how I support my clients to move past these limiting out-of-date habits.

Let’s connect:

If you want to know more about Megatrain and how we can work together, drop me a line:

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