“Should we keep overworking our staff to rescue other departments or let the others fail and bring the company down with them?”
That’s the essence of the question that was posed to me last week. A leader felt stuck with no good plan to move forward.
Leaders of all levels fall into this trap — the “false dilemma.”
❌ “Should I fire them, or keep cleaning up their messes?”
❌ “You think I’m too loud? So I should talk so nobody can hear me?”
❌ “What do you mean I’m away from home too much? Do you want me to lose my job and our house?”
❌ “Do you want me to get the work done or spend my time reporting on it?”
❌ “What’s wrong with this plan? Don’t you realize how much damage the other plan will cause?”
But when you ask yourself a lose-lose question, you’ve already limited yourself to losing.
And finding other choices usually isn’t the hardest part about it. What’s hard is noticing that you’ve limited yourself by asking the wrong question.
We don’t see our own false dilemmas.
That’s why courageous leaders hire coaches. They bring in someone to help them see their own self-limiting beliefs and behaviors. They get help in asking more powerful questions that lead to clearer actions and better results.