Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity – Jennifer Garvey Berger


Jennifer Garvey Berger often hears the common plea from leaders "I know that complexity and uncertainty are testing my instincts, but I don't know which to trust. Is there some way to know what to do when I can't know what's next?" Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps is the answer to this question. For thousands of years, instincts, honed by evolution, helped humans survive. Today, those instincts threaten your success at work and in life. These evolutionary "mindtraps" impair your decision making and effectiveness:

  • Don't get trapped by simple stories. 
  • Just because it feels right doesn't mean it is right. 
  • Don't agree just to be agreeable. 
  • Taking charge strips you of influence. 
  • Beware of your ego; it can freeze you in place and prevent your growth. 

Our preference for simple stories, for example, creates the belief that each story will have a beginning, middle, and end. The neatness of that narrative creates a connection of cause and effect. In reality, we end up projecting forward into an unknown future based on past information and rely on selective data to fill in the missing pieces so that the story's logic and simplicity are maintained. 

Stories have maintained connections and legacies for generations, but our conviction for accepting those stories, as they are, can have a dangerous downside. It doesn't allow us to imagine a better alternative that is more applicable to our present situation. The key to avoiding this mindtrap is to question every element of the narrative, from the basic premise to the highly-selective data we are presented. We need to break out of our story patterns! 

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