I want to talk to you about delusions of a dream company. That doesn't sound so great, so what is it? This is a company that's been very successful. They've hit the metrics, they've hit their numbers, and they know they've been successful, and they should rightly celebrate that success. But what happens often, step by step, slowly but surely, is that they start to believe in their own press, they start to believe that they could do no wrong, they start to believe that they've got all the answers and they've got it all figured out. Obviously, when you start to let those attitudes permeate into your culture, the ability to adapt, to adjust, and to face up to reality becomes much more difficult. This happens, by the way, both internally and externally. For example, external breakdowns happen with respect to how you think about and interact with customers and with suppliers. If you get customer complaints, what are you going to say? Well, smart manager is going to say, "Well, let's go look into it and see what happens, see what's going on." The manager in a delusionary dream company is going to say, "Well, they must be wrong, they're not doing this right, they don't understand something." They blame the customer, they don't understand what's going on. They can't quite accept the fact that the responsibility might be internally. This is true also for suppliers as well, both suppliers and customers. Let's face it. It is possible that we're right and they're wrong, it's possible, but that can't be your first reaction. But for these delusionary companies, that is their first reaction. They immediately put up their barrier and they say, "They're wrong and we're right." That's not the way to confront challenging situations, and it's not the way to build up a rapport and strong trusting relationships with business partners. Internally is, if anything, even bigger, and it boils down to this: No one is willing to speak up. No one is willing to say anything. You're sitting around the table, and the leader of the team is saying whatever he or she is saying, and there's lots of nodding heads. What they really think, they're never going to share. There's a lot of expressions people have come up with over the years, like the elephant in the room. Have you heard that one? It's like here you are sitting around a conference table and it's as if there's an elephant sitting right there in the conference table and nobody says it's there. It's as if it isn't there, but everybody knows that it's there. I want you to think about this for yourself. When was the last time that someone challenged you, that someone pushed back against you and said, "I'd said, I don't think you're right. I think you're wrong, and here's the reason I think maybe we should be doing this." Now, some of you are thinking, "Man, this happens to me every day and I can barely keep up, I'm getting tired." If this is a regular practice, if this is part of the culture of your team and the people around you, I say you're pretty lucky. I understand it could wear you down a little bit, but you're pretty lucky because you're getting people to interact, you're getting people to say what they really think. The problem is the opposite. When you can't think of the last time that somebody on your team or a colleague came to you and said, "I have a different point of view." You could do that self test right now. In fact, I'm sure you're doing it as you listen to me. If you don't know when the last time is that somebody had a different point of view and was willing to speak up and share it with you, then you have to wonder why is that. I'll give you the answer. Why is that? Because of you. Because you've probably demonstrated how you will react to people that have a different perspective than you. You've already shown that you don't want to hear it, and people pay attention. They pay attention to their bosses extremely carefully because you don't want to get on the wrong side of your boss. Sometimes this happens in a really blunt way like somebody doesn't get a promotion or it's a smaller bonus, but other times, it's quite subtle. But people pick up on this. You want to think about, why aren't you getting more of that interaction? It's part of your job. You need to make it as easy as possible for others to disagree with you. If you're the boss, if you're a leader, if there are people reporting to you, it's even more important for you. Again, as was the case externally, if I go to you and I disagree with you, and I give you a different point of view, you don't have to agree with me, you don't have to say, "You're right." No, you don't have to do that all. Adults understand that you don't get your way all the time. But I have to feel like I could say what I want to say. You won't get all of me, you won't get all of my capability, all of my skill if I feel like my hands are tied behind my back or I'm walking around with a tape over my mouth. The key thing here is to generate really, as honest as you can, real debate and real discussion. This is so important. You want to be careful also. We're living in a COVID and a post-COVID world. The memory of COVID as we move forward is not going to disappear so fast, and one of the things that's happened is hybrid work arrangements, people working from home, and so keep that in mind as well. If you're spending less face-to-face time with people, you've got to really use that time well. The time when you're face-to-face, it should really be all about discussion and debate, and not presentation after presentation. What I'm describing here happens really most often when you're successful because you could say, "Look, we've done it. We're at the top of the pecking order, we've hit our numbers, I've been successful." That's when it happens. Imagine how delusionary you have to be. If you're in a failing organization, you still believe you're better than everybody else. What I'm talking about are the twin evils of arrogance and complacency. I could tell you that in almost every very successful company, team, and even leader, I have seen vestiges of and sometimes pretty blatant examples of arrogance and complacency, and that's no way to win. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, evaluates investments using, he calls it the ABCs. A is arrogance, and C is complacency, he adds B for bureaucracy into the mix, which I think is pretty smart. A lot of people talk about the war for talent, you've got to get the best talent, and we understand that and we'll talk more about that, in fact, in third course in the sequence on super bosses. But how could it make sense to have great talent, but not to unleash them, not to give them a chance to have an impact, to have people believe they can't really say what they want to say? A lot of this is a responsibility of leaders, of managers, but for every one of us that works with anyone else. The greatest learning is going to happen when you have a chance to practice this. One of the things I've learned is it's in retrospect, you can look back and say, "Yeah, there was a cultural breakdown." But we don't want to live just in retrospect, we want to live forward. The decisions you're making today, the work you're doing today as you think about your career, all of that requires you or you want at least to be as alert as you can to these cultural breakdowns and these cultural mistakes. In this module, I'm going to give you a bunch of practice, several different exercises for you to think about how and what you should do to be more effective in breaking through this cultural barrier that makes it difficult for people to really have a true give-and-take and to avoid this problem of the delusions of a dream company.