What’s Wrong With (Always) Being Right?

“Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes, it’s real hard- but just remember that doing the right thing is always right.”

–David Cottrell

In my many years in leadership, some of the most annoying people I come across are those whom, no matter the circumstance, are always right. They always have a ready excuse, an ‘out’ when things go wrong, it’s never their fault. They are always right. Chances are you’ve met one or two of these people along the way yourself.

Then you have the ‘know it all’ – that one person who’s the in-house ‘expert’ about everything. They would choose an ‘I told you so’ moment over ever admitting they were wrong about anything- even if it adversely affected the organization. (If this type person exists in your organization they are toxic, and you must deal with them).

Here’s the rub- people hate being wrong. I get it. We like to be at our best, do our best, but at the end of the day, we are mere mortals. We screw up. And we don’t know everything. So how do you guard yourself against ever developing this kind of an attitude? Here’s some food for thought.

Acknowledge your limitations

You bring a certain depth of skill and knowledge to your workplace. It’s great that you are highly trained in your area of expertise and contribute to the good of the team. You do your best to add value to your organization.

But a dose of reality is necessary if you desire to be an effective leader. While your expertise can be strong in one area, chances are you are not an ‘expert’ in every area. That’s why you have to listen, collaborate, and tap into the skills of your colleagues and defer to them. A lack of self-awareness on your part doesn’t change what others know and what you fail to admit. You don’t know everything so quit acting like it.

Focus on doing right, not always being right

When you make the shift from always ‘being’ right to ‘doing’ right, it will significantly change your leadership. It will change the way you look at things – and it will actually be a liberating force in your life. The self-imposed pressure of always being right frees you up to do right. It’s a game changer in many regards.

Let’s be real – it’s when you focus on doing right that you will experience growth in your leadership. It’s a mark of maturity. With nothing to prove and no compulsion to always be right, you can now focus on more important things like being a servant leader instead of protecting your ego.

Be humble and teachable

Personal growth and development will rarely happen within the ‘know it all’ or ‘always right’ bubble or mindset. There’s no room for it. Not because there’s nothing more to learn, but because this person believes that he or she is already there. It’s a dangerous mindset to have as a leader.

In Proverbs 19:20, the writer says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future”. For the sake of your own personal development, and those whom you lead, be teachable and walk humbly. None of us have arrived and there’s a lot of people depending on us to realize it.


Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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  1. If the person is always my wife — then nothing is wrong. 😉
    Seriously, people despite perfection. They just don’t like it. What did Iron Man say to Captain America? Paraphrasing here – “I’d like to punch you in those perfect teeth”.