This tip asks you to examine your grandiosity. Most of us run from this kind of self-reflection, so take a deep breath, and read slowly.
Unless you’re Donald Trump or Miss Piggy, and narcissistic displays are part of your brand identity, self-importance is bad for business. There are several reasons for this:
- Self importance is a distraction. It’s hard to steer the vessel when you’re gazing in the mirror.
- If a leader’s sense of self is wrapped up in being acknowledged, somewhere in the his psyche, he realizes he’s an imposter. True leaders are not preoccupied with burnishing their reputations. The grandiose ones feel they must use force or guile to avoid being overthrown. They are constantly on the lookout for mutinies and palace intrigues. With these preoccupations, they create highly politicized work environments where doing the right thing is career limiting.
- Other people’s good ideas are often overlooked or rejected because they weren’t invented by you.
- If you’ve surrounded yourself with sycophants, you’re insulated from the truth. Remember the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes?
Bill Joiner and I wrote about five stages of leadership maturity in our book, Leadership Agility. At the third stage, leaders begin to operate with markedly less self-importance. It’s instructive to look at the first two stages – Expert and Achiever – because they account for 80% of people in corporate America. We call leaders at these stages “heroic,” because they behave as though they are heroes in their own drama.
In the third stage, The Catalyst, a leader begins to learn how to drop the hero role, get out of the way, and create environments where great things happen, things he might have thwarted had he stuck to his heroic vision.
Tip: Assess your Level of Leadership Agility: Discover what your leadership might look like if you took it to the next stage, and determine how you want to develop yourself going forward.
Chapter 2 of Leadership Agility is entitled, “The Five Ed’s.” Reading it gives you the experience of having a dinner conversation with an executive for five nights in a row. On each successive night you talk to the same man in the same leadership role, but on each night he’s at a different stage of Leadership Agility.
In reading the chapter you will get a quick intuitive understanding of the five stages and at what stage you currently operate. It will also show you what your leadership might be like if you developed to the next stage.
At the end of the chapter you will have the opportunity to confirm your self-assessment.
Click here to download the chapter.