Tuesday, 28 February 2012


As a leader, how do you manage your own assumptions and the assumptions of those you lead?

We make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then
we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong.

Don Miguel Ruiz

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, an assumption is "something that you may accept as true without question or proof."  It is amazing how many of us believe in our assumptions as truth.  Everyone has assumptions and sometimes assumptions are good.  For example, we assume that when we turn on a faucet, water will come out.  We trust that this will happen.  On the other hand, some assumptions are negative, stagnating, or incorrect.  Negative assumptions about things can block us from taking steps forward.  For example, if we assume that certain staff members will not respond well to changes in the workplace, we may hold ourselves back from moving forward in our work or we may move it forward too aggressively.  Assumptions are thoughts that cause us to predict outcomes and we take actions based on the assumptions we hold.  

Our role as leaders?  We need to challenge assumptions - our own and those of the people we lead.  How do we do it?  Here are a few questions to use in daily conversation that just might help:

  • Do we know that to be true or are we making an assumption?
  • Do we have data or evidence to support this?
  • Are we making an assumption about this?
  • Why might we believe this to be true?
  • How did we arrive at this belief?
  • What if our belief (assumption) is untrue?
  • How can we prove this to be true or untrue?

Adapted from: Be a ChangeMaster by Karla Reiss (Corwin Press)

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