Hie everyone,


I have listened to a podcast lately and I just can take this sentence out ok my head. Can't remember which podcast though.

Mike was talking about a previous manager of his that has told him to be effectiv instead of trying to be right. I must admit that I cannot see the difference.

Could anyone give me an example to make that more concrete to me.

Thanks for your help.


mtietel's picture
Training Badge

The urge to be correct trumps everything else.

Manager: "Can I give you some feedback?"

Direct: "You gonna fire me?"

Manager: "No.  Can I give you some feedback?"

Direct: "Sure."

Manager:  "When you say in a team meeting that senior management doesn't care about us when in fact they're at a $3m a month burn rate on contractors to keep a seat warm for you after this is over, you destroy team morale and look unprofessional.  What can you do differently?"

Direct: <rolls eyes>

Manager: "Any other questions?"

Direct: "I didn't ask a question to start with."


While that last statement is technically correct, when you consistently nitpick in this manner you're just asking your manager to break his promise  (i.e., next time you ask "You gonna fire me?", the answer is going to be "yes".)

I see it too in cross functional group meetings (and frankly as a High-D/C I've been guilty of it in the past), where you'll fight to the death to prove you're right.  Problem is at the end of the meeting everyone else walks out of the room thinking you're a colossal jerk and won't work with you any more.  Not effective.

jhack's picture

The Shot Across the Bow podcast is all about being effective, rather than worrying about being right.

John Hack

mmann's picture
Licensee Badge

I have a real-world example from several years ago.

I was working in IT for a large, professional services firm.  My task was to obtain funding from the Executive Committee for a project to back up the data on over 40,000 laptop computers for a highly mobile population.

The firm had experience and infrastructure for one solution, call it Backup T.  After a series of meetings we had a plan for Backup T and had a solid estimation of the costs expected.  I built my presentation around this solution and the need to fund it for $2m in the first year.

As I worked through the prewire for my presentation meeting a faction supporting another product began to surface, call it Backup C.  Backup C was superior: 

  • It used special algorithms to decrease the quantity of data transmitted, reducing bandwidth requirements.
  • It compressed the data prior to transmission, further reducing the bandwidth requirements
  • It could backup encrypted data without decrypting it first
  • It had a throttle mechanism that limited CPU and bandwidth usage causing less disruption for the user
  • The differences were on a logarithmic scale (GBs vs KB)

The problem was, I didn't have enough time to change the product in my presentation and make the appropriate pre-wire adjustments before the Executive Committee meeting.  At the same time, the faction supporting Backup C was becoming increasingly vocal about their opposition.  I had to act quickly if I hoped to preserve what ultimately represented a benefit for everyone in the firm.

I met with the most vocal member of the Backup C supporters.  I listened carefully to his arguments, avoiding the perception of any kind of disagreement.  When he finished I could whole-heartedly agree with him that Backup C was superior, AND, explain that the discussion was about funding, and not the technology.  I helped him see how his desention with my presentation would ultimately result in no funding for ANY backup solution in that fiscal year.  I showed how the funds allocated for the initiative would be adequate to deploy either Backup T or Backup C. 

So... to sum it up... If I had pursued Backup C (the right solution) I would have ultimately ended up with no money to fund anything (ineffective).

To wrap up the story, the initiative was funded.  Ultimately we deployed Backup C.



rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Marshall Goldsmith calls this problem of people that always have to be right "Winning too much". I suffer a lot from this myself.

For a nice example about going out to a restaurant, see Marshall in a video:


sbaleno's picture

 I believe the quote was "Stop focusing on being right, and start focusing on being effective.  And right is not always being effective...."  The quote is around 20-minutes into the "Disagreeing with your Boss" (Part I) cast.

This quote struck me such that I wrote it down.  There is actually more to it (including being "smart-right" and "dumb-right"), so you might want to re-listen to the cast.  

This cast is from October of 2009.


cruss's picture
Licensee Badge

I often encounter the effective vs. right conflict in building relationships with other people. Put simply, trying to prove that you, or your idea, or your facts are "right" can be destructive to relationships, and therefore ineffective.

This was one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn in my career. I was sure that it was my mission in life to ensure that everyone had all the facts and knew every detail of a situation in order to "make better decisions". I knew that this was important even if the other person didn't want to know, or didn't care, or had other information that I didn't. I would somehow fail if I didn't convince them of my information. (You can just feel the High C can't you)

In other words, I was an annoying know-it-all. This didn't mean I was wrong, just that I was awful at building relationships.

I had to learn, often the hard way, that sometimes it was alright if someone said something technically incorrect. And it wasn't my job to "educate" them, it wasn't my responsibility to correct everyone. I had to learn to keep my damn mouth shut.

More importantly I had to learn when, and how, to effectively pass on information, and when not to. I still make sure that decision makers have as much data as they want from me, now I just try to put it the way they want it and only share as much as they require. I focus on building the relationship first and "adding value" second. The High C Manager Simple Downfall casts talk extensively about this.

I had to stop letting my need to be right keep me from being effective. I like to think I'm much better now. And if anyone else is suffering from excessive "foot in mouth disease" please know that some of us have overcome it, although it can still be a daily struggle.

Canyon R

mrabeman's picture

First thank you all for your answers. They help me understand better what THE men meant.

I have another question regarding Dale Carnegie's training. What is your opinion about this training ?

I have seen in the last MT newsletter a quote saying ""I have attended Dale Carnegie, American Management Association, etc conferences and the MT conference blew them away!"
- Jeff Vose, 2007 conference attendee".


How well is this Dale Carnegie's training known in the US ?


Mija R