24 November 2012

Nigeria: Leadership Initiatives for Excellence 'Life' Series - Pride Is a Silent Leadership Assassin


Pride Trigger 3: Good Intentions

We tend to judge others by their actions rather than intentions, while we judge our own actions by our intentions. This is particularly dangerous to the life of a leader if he can't distinguish between what she intended to do and what she actually ended up doing.

Leaders need to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking just because we've said it (or read it), we're living it. What is taught out of our mouths isn't necessarily done through our actions. We have to be just as intentional, if not more, about how we apply what we are teaching so we don't sink into this deception.

This disconnect only leads to justification of actions that "don't apply" to us. We can easily trick ourselves into thinking whatever we'd like to give grounds for why we are the exception. It's important to be brave, look inside, and allow God to take a true inventory of what's going on and make adjustments. The life of our leadership and those we lead depend on it.

Pride Trigger 4: Myopia

We are generally consumed with thinking about success in the moment, not about leaving something valuable to the upcoming generation. We usually underestimated the value of the little things: the little choices that built up over time, creating a bigger message that wasn't focused on leaving a legacy but covered with excuses about our negligence in the little things.

Little things matter. The daily choices we make as leaders build to tell a story about us that speaks louder than the successful moments we want to believe are louder.

As leaders, we have been given responsibility toward those we lead and those leaders who are coming up behind us. We need to care more about what we are leaving behind than a preoccupation with the moving target of success. We need to cultivate honest hearts that can see between the lines of intention and action. We need to guard our hearts against bitterness and see the gifting of God as something we steward, not own. If we tend our hearts well, we will see lasting fruit from our labour.

Ways Leaders Can Avoid the Pitfall of Pride

Consider these five principles to maintain your humility:

Seek feedback. Ask those that know you well for their candid and constructive feedback. Ask if your style, tone, or content has any arrogance to it. Be accessible and maintain an open-door policy where people can share their thoughts with you without fear of reprisal.

Test your motives. Consider why you do what you do. Do you lead for your personal enjoyment or to help others? When in meetings, are you willing to let others do most of the talking? Do you give your children a chance to explain themselves or are you quick to apply a heavy hand of discipline because you can. Bring into your consciousness your true motives.

Know your responsibility. Realize your responsibility as a leader is to lead people, not to exercise your power over them. Your value-add is often invisible. It is what your constituents do that validates your leadership, not what you do yourself. Focus on helping and enabling others. It will come back to you like the repayment of a loan, with interest.

Ground your confidence in yourself. Don't depend on the perceptions of others for your self-confidence. If you do, you will be on a constant roller coaster ride. Your mood and self-esteem will constantly go up and down by no cause of your own. You may not be perfect, but neither is anyone else. Strive to improve yourself, but be confident in yourself as you are. Don't feel like you need to brag on yourself in order to receive validation from others.

Know how to promote your value-add. There are occasions when people need to understand your value-add. Customers, investors, and supporters need to know that their resources are being put to good use. You can toot your own horn without being conceited. Focus on your constituents and the benefits to them. It is about them, the results, the team, and the value-add itself. It is not about what you did. Be careful about using the "I" word, especially when it should be the "we" word.

Follow these five principles to keep your pride in check and your leadership in top shape.

Questions: Is your leadership marked by humility? What are some of the ways you see pride seeping into your interaction with others?

Lere Baale is a director of Business School Netherlands www.bsn.eu and a certified strategy consultant at Howes Consulting Group.

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