As leaders, we can take ourselves a little too seriously sometimes. We’re at the helm of the ship, so we feel like we’ve got to have our game faces on 24/7. We try to portray perfection and embody some idealistic model of the uber-leader.
We trick ourselves into thinking we’re some infallible being and that everything that we do has to fall in line with that definition. This can come from a prideful place. It can also come from an insecure place. Either way, this is an unhealthy way of doing things.
You’ve gotta get this in check before you find yourself at the top of the ivory tower delivering proclamations down to your people like the mighty white wizard…
Here are some warning signs. When you find yourself believing these things, please turn the other way and run back to a more human approach to running your business and dealing with people.
1. The Way People Look Really Matters to You
Does the fact that I don’t wear a 3 piece suit make you not want to do business with me?
Whoever said that clothes make the man was probably a tailor or a custom clothing manufacturer. I would caution you about this erroneous line of thinking. Someone who spends more time optimizing his or her wardrobe than actually doing important work is someone you do not need on your team.
I do believe in grooming and looking presentable/professional, but how much can you really judge a book by its cover? I spend a lot of time in coffee shops surrounded by some of Nashville’s more successful entrepreneurs and creative types; the brightest people in this city.
No shaves. No 3 piece suits. No shiny shoes. Just talent.
2. Your Ideas Always Win
Do you bring justice to the concept of true collaboration in your board meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team huddles? Are you there to find a creative solution to a problem or discover the best way to accomplish a task? If so, then you have to accept the fact that some people will have better ideas than you.
My most successful moments in leadership have come from the times when I could just step back and let my well-developed team do what I need them to do.
3. Your Latest Blog Is The Most Insightful Thing Ever Written
I fall into this trap sometimes. I write an 18 million word dissertation on how much of a “game-changer” Google Buzz is going to be and force feed it to everyone in my organization via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Then, I’ll spend the next team meeting re-hashing the post and quoting myself. Inspiring, right?
How’s Google Buzz doing, anyway?
4. Your Facebook/Twitter Follower Numbers Actually Matter
I’m not talking strategy here. I’m talking about self-fulfillment. A friend and I like to jokingly battle back and forth about our Klout scores. It’s all jokes and fun until someone starts to wrap up their self-worth in these numbers. That’s when it just gets sad. Your influence is not measured by the number of friends you have on Facebook.
It’s easy to fall into that trap both online and offline. Ever give a presentation to a packed house one week followed by an empty room the following week? How did that feel?
5. You Resist Change Like I Resist Wearing Neck-Ties
Pre-face: I’ve sworn off neckties for the remainder of my natural life.
You’ve got too much of your pride and identity wrapped up in your pre-established systems, models, and tools. To change them would be to knock down the very house that you’ve built with your own bare hands.
- Who cares if our model is outdated?
- What does it matter if we’re consistently missing sales goals?
- What good could Twitter possibly do for my business?
6. Your Brand Image is More Important Than Your Brand
This is a scary one. You’ve gotten wrapped up in the packaging of your message. You’re ultimately concerned with being hip and delivering something the world will enjoy, as opposed to something that will change the world. In this process, you let the message become diluted, distorted, and diminished.
Is it supremely important to you that your brand looks like its doing great things?
Is it supremely important to you that your brand actually does great things?
7. You Call Yourself a Business Guru
Ok. I just threw this one in for fun. But, really… A guru? Seriously?
I might as well change the title on my business cards from ‘Real Estate Consultant’ to ‘The Grand Poobah of Nashville Real Estate.’ Let’s throw a little humility into the mix and at least settle for a slightly more benign superlative like ‘Expert.’
It’s important to be a strong, confident leader, but when we get wrapped up in our own pride, we stop acting objectively. We do things in the best interest of self-preservation, while neglecting our calling and our mission. We focus on ourselves and cast everything else aside.
I’ve gotta get over myself. You’ve gotta get over yourself.
I was feeling a little antagonistic today. What do you think?