So why is it so hard for corporate CEOs to say that they are wrong? As far as I can tell they are all sort of human. Yet it is very rare that we ever see a CEO admitting a mistake.
While formal education might have a part in it, I think it goes even farther than that. We're in a world where it is easy for people to live in a cocoon that says they are never wrong. We even have parents that will argue with teachers.
In the fifties and sixties that was unheard of. If a teacher said you did something wrong, you were toast. While we were taught to respect authority, many of the generation after us learned by experience they are the authority if they just play their cards right. If you assume the impossibility of making an error, then everyone else is wrong including your parents. It's not too big a reach to assume that a rule might not apply to you. Look at how many people run red lights. Does the red light not mean them. Is it only for the guy following.
Just maybe we've gone a little far with building the self esteem of our future leaders. While organizations such as the Boy Scouts with a structured authority system have fallen out of favor, we've have seen the growth of the cult of personality. Athletes often believe themselves more important than their teams. Individuals put themselves ahead of society as a whole. It's all about the individual. It's like everyone wants to be on the stage alone with the lights shining on them
Unfortunately that doesn't work in a society where people have to work together for success. Eventually you end up with no loyalty to anyone but yourself and maybe your family. With the number of divorces, you have to wonder if loyalty to family is even important. While the business world needs to be ruthless, it doesn't need to be stupid. Making decisions with input from others is smart. Unless we can teach CEOs and other supposed leaders that collective intelligence usually beats the brains of one, we're going to face a long haul in the next few years.
How many times have you heard that there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians? Fame, fortune, and a CEO title means never having to say you're wrong. It shouldn't be that way. Leadership involves more than thinking you're right. Building a company that is successful is a real balancing act, but the odds of success decrease in proportion to the increase in difficulty of the company's CEO in admitting his own mistakes.