By David M. Dye

(560 words)

What Happened?

If you had been with me in my early years teaching, you would have seen my growing frustration.

I had a class of students who consistently:

  • came to class
  • participated and engaged with the material
  • worked to learn the subject matter

However, when it came time to display their knowledge, they struggled to do better than F or D level work.

My team and I labored over our review sessions, making sure we were not missing any content. Nevertheless, the class as a whole did not improve.

Concerned about my effectiveness as a teacher, I began experimenting with different instructional and review methods.

With one of them, student performance improved overnight – from Fs and Ds to Bs and even a few As!

Does It Work?

As it turned out, this group of students almost uniformly learned best through the act of guided writing than any other technique.

The students did not know it themselves, and my team and I only learned it through experimentation.

What I remember most about this incident was the response of another teacher.

When I related my discovery to her, she said that:

  • She was covering the necessary material
  • Her instructional methods were perfectly sound
  • In her opinion the students should take responsibility for their own learning
  • She saw no reason to change

Of course, she was “right”.

“Right” in so far as yes, her instructional methods were good, and yes, students ultimately should take responsibility for their own learning.

What bothered me, however, is that she was consciously choosing being “right” over being effective.

What she and I had done previously did not work. Why on earth would we keep doing it?

What Do You Really Want?

As a leader, your goal is to achieve results. Maybe you want to increase revenue, see people grow, or change the world in some fashion.

It’s vital that you keep those goals in front of you and regularly ask yourself what it is you really want.

Many new leaders (and more than a few experienced leaders!) get stuck because they cannot see past their own “rightness” and do the things that will help them be effective and achieve results.

Here are a few examples:

“Why should I have to tell them again…I said it once.”

Yes, you did – 3 months ago. People have many priorities competing for their attention and important items often need multiple repetitions in multiple forums.

“Why should I encourage / thank them…they’re just doing their job.”

Yes, they are. Yet people are more engaged when they feel appreciated and are seen as a human being and not just a cog in a machine.

“Why should I hear opposing view points…I’m an expert in this subject and I’ve looked at all the option?”

Yes, you are and I’m sure you did a thorough analysis, but if you want your team to be committed to the idea, their voices need to be heard. Besides, you might be surprised by someone else’s perspective.


You need courage here – it’s not always easy to take an honest look at what you’re doing and ruthlessly assess whether or not it’s working.

Even so, it’s something the best leaders do regularly.

If you want to achieve results and increase your influence, look for places where you’ve clung to being “right”.

Then let it go…and choose to be effective.

Copyright 2011-2014 David M. Dye


Bio Paragraph: David Dye works with leaders to get breakthrough results without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. He is the award-winning author of Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. He is the President of Trailblaze, Inc, tweets from @davidmdye, and welcomes your LinkedIn invitation.