Aye, Aye, Captain?

Who influences your decisions? Who’s words or actions do you respond to?

With so many voices and opinions; so many stories and experiences, who do you listen to?

As I thought about my own voice and those who resonate with me, I remembered a piece I read in Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin and Robert Cialdini.  

An interesting book full of insights and good humour founded on solid ethical research.

In it there is a section on captainitis

“…the sometimes perilous behaviour people exhibit when they defer blindly to whoever they see as being the most experienced person in the room…”

The book uses the example of the cockpit of an aircraft and there are many situations where this might occur in our own working lives.

Here are some possible scenarios…

  • leaders whose decisions aren’t challenged because ‘they’re the boss’
  • new managers who are a little drunk on their new-found power
  • disengaged teams who don’t care because no-one listens to their views
  • family businesses where there is excessive deference to the founder
  • subject experts who can’t possibly ever be wrong

When you’re wanting input into your career and life choices, your ears are open and you’re ready to receive, it’s important to strike a balance and remember that:

Volume (exposure) doesn’t necessarily mean value.

Seniority doesn’t necessarily mean sense.

Job titles don’t always tell the real journey.

I hadn’t heard of captainitis before reading the book but I have seen the behaviour in action in different people at different career stages.

Luckily there are many ways to keep captainitis at bay.  You can help yourself and others by…

Keeping an open, questioning mind and looking past face-value

Viewing situations from different perspectives; the good, the bad and the ugly 🙂

Remembering it’s your career and they are your personal choices

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