Reality Distortion Fields

Blog - Distort

Have you ever used any of these phrases:  “Don’t play the victim”, “Regardless, this is what we need and what we are doing”, “I don’t care how you do it, just do it.”?  If so, you may be undermining your own goals by losing the respect of your team, not to mention just getting on everyone’s nerves.

Steve Jobs is often sited for his notorious Reality Distortion Field, lauded and criticized at the same time.  Your ability as a leader to inspire your team to achieve what they never thought possible is the key to break-through success.  However, the opposite end of that is stress, frustration, and resentment when your expectations simply aren’t in line with reality.  This is especially true if you demand something and then fail to give any support to bring that goal about.

I’ve worked with many leaders in the past who closed their ears to their teams.  Of course, the team members sure talked a lot about that person when they weren’t in the room and most of it was not very flattering.  As a leader, you need to know what your team is thinking and you want them to know you respect both their ideas and the challenges they face.  For that reason, it’s important to always keep an open mind and listen to their thoughts.  This way, you can provide targeted support, your team gets what they need to try and meet your demands, and the relationships remain strong.

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2 Comments on “Reality Distortion Fields”

  1. Scott J says:

    I have seen and hear phrases like this too often. One I would add to this list, “You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.” Essentially burdening your employee(s) with a task that is outside their skill-set. I completely agree with you. When asking your team to complete a task, the next questions should be “Do you feel comfortable completing this?”, “Is there anything you will need from me, tools, training, outside resources, to ensure that you are successful.” Any other approach is setting your team up for failure. I often listen for hesitation in my employees voice when discussing task assignments, and press them when they sound unsure to discover what the hesitation is about. At the end of the day, it is the leaders job to make sure their employees are successful.

    • Good comment. Ken Blanchard’s classic, “The One Minute Manager”, makes a similar point about knowing what level of coaching to provide an employee with and how much support they may need.


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