It’s easy to be critical of leaders who can’t face the facts, but in truth, most of us engage in denial at one time or another, usually without knowing it. To encourage better examination of tough topics, find ways to encourage dialogue when complex issues are on the table. Denial is less likely to occur when teams look at the situation from multiple angles, challenge underlying assumptions, and construct a better picture of what’s really going on.
Also, don’t assume that everyone sees the world through the same lens as you. Facts and data are usually open to interpretation, and people have different underlying criteria for how they analyze them. We all emphasize some things and discount others, based on past experiences, personality, and tolerance for discomfort.
Adapted from “The Dangers of Denial” by Ron Ashkenas.