Don’t blame them for being misled

My sister made an interesting comment this week that triggered a new post that’s perfect for a Friday. She said for many years when she read a description of someone as “misled,” she thought it was pronounced [mizzled], a word which to me falls in the company of such descriptors as grouchy, frumpy and crotchety. I asked my sister what she thought [mizzled] meant, and her response draws from the verb form, misle: “I just thought it was a very mean thing to do to someone.”

What hit me later is the actual meaning of the word “misled.” Dictionary.com defines it as being led astray or guided wrongly. The implication is that the fault lies with the leader. That’s what Chip and Dan Heath point out in Switch. In a blog post a year ago, I quoted their reference to the Fundamental Attribution Error, which states that leaders have a deeply-seated tendency “to attribute others’ behavior to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in” (while generously doing the opposite with our own behavior).

What I’m suggesting is that if you, as a leader, have problems with your followers, you should look in the mirror. Grumpy, complaining, “misled” followers reflect the face of their leader.

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