Don’t Let Leadership Go to Your Head

I'm Great
This is a guest post by Jason Cooper. Jason is a communications professional at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to leading a multi-media communications unit at the university, he helps leaders improve their communications. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Stay Grounded

Leaders are usually in leadership positions because they have proven themselves in some capacity. They may have had the best technical skills, or the boldest and best ideas, or maybe they found themselves in a leadership position because they knew how to work with and motivate a team of people to accomplish far more than they could alone.

As leaders rise, however, there is a tendency to let it go to their heads. The faster a leader rises, the more likely this is to happen. Pride begins to set in, and pride is the gateway drug to arrogance.


“Pride is the gateway drug to arrogance.” -Jason Cooper


Leadership, Skill and Value

Leaders must strive to never confuse their skills with their value. I may be “better at” something, but that doesn’t mean I am “better than” someone. People matter! They may have a different skill set or serve in a different capacity, but they matter.

Lousy leaders are ‘better’ at everything. Arrogant talent is a barrier to the growth of others. Humility opens doors for others.” ~ Dan Rockwell


“Humility opens doors for others.” -Dan Rockwell


Leaders who alienate people by their arrogance rarely last. But leaders who value people and elevate others create long lasting impact. Research continually reinforces that the ability to engage with people is a key indicator for success and employee performance.


Arrogance and Humility

No one sets out to become arrogant. We can each think of someone who we have known who over time has grown to be full of themselves. If arrogance is in fact something that can develop over time, then it also stands to reason that there are things we can do to avoid it happening to us. But it can be tricky. One can simply go through the motions in order to wear their humility like a shiny badge of honor.

A professor of mine in college would, after leading the class in sharing positive feedback regarding our in-class presentations, transition to sharing criticism with the phrase, “Lest a man [or woman] think more highly of himself than he ought…” In his honor, here are a few suggestions on how to cultivate humility.


“Leaders who alienate people by their arrogance rarely last.” -Jason Cooper



7 Practical Ways to Cultivate Humility


1. Have lunch with the janitor.

Seek out those who by the world’s standards are near the bottom. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Treat them as equals (because ultimately they are). You’ll find that you are not so different from them.


2. Intentionally share the credit with your team even when they aren’t around.

Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want

Living Forward Life Planning

Get the Life You Want

Do you have big goals, a plan of action, and the confidence you will achieve your dreams?

Do you daydream about success but don’t really think it’s possible for you?

Do you want to change a wish into a plan?

This week, my wife and I purchased a car. We spent hours researching models, checking safety features, and reading online reviews. After multiple test drives and visits to various dealerships, we finally settled on one she wanted. Then we spent hours more buying it and still more hours learning its various features.


“You get what you focus on.” –Daniel Harkavy


That’s the way it is when we make a big purchase. I’m sure it’s the same in your home. We do this when planning vacations, too, right? Reading online reviews, choosing hotels, and carefully picking flights or planning a drive. If you’re at the stage where you have a teenager picking a university, you may be experiencing the dizzying array of possibilities. All of it requires time, attention, and careful planning. Whether college, a car, a vacation, or a family event like a wedding, we take the time needed to plan it all out so that we have a memorable experience.

So let me ask you a question.

Do you spend that type of time planning your life?

It seems that many of us go through our lives, accepting what comes, and just “going with the flow.”

What if there was a better way?


“People lose their way when they lose their why.” –Michael Hyatt


Michael Hyatt has just written a book with Daniel Harkavy that will help you design the life you want.

Living ForwardMichael is the CEO of Intentional Leadership, an online leadership development company. He is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and also the NYT bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. You may have heard his popular This is Your Life podcast.

Michael also is a close personal friend. He encouraged me to join Twitter and start blogging. I’ve watched him grow his business, but more importantly I’ve watched how he lives his life.

Which is why I am confident you will enjoy his newest book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Though I don’t know his co-author, Daniel Harkavy, I know he was Michael’s coach. His company, Building Champions, has helped many people get on track to accomplish their goals.

I recently asked Michael a few questions about the new book.


Design Your Life

What is a life plan?

A life plan is a brief document where you establish your personal priorities and articulate the steps you need to get from where you currently are to where you want to be. It’s a living document that you write yourself that gives you a view of your life.


“The man without purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” –Thomas Carlyle


Tell us about your own experience with Life Planning.

Daniel introduced it to me when he was my coach in the early 2000s. Before I created a Life Plan, I spent way too much time at work. That was one area where I did plan, where I was intentional, but I was really drifting in other areas of my life, including my health, family, community life, and everything else that is truly important to me. Life Planning has been transformational for me.


“There is no such thing as a compartmentalized life.” –Michael Hyatt


Begin With the End in Mind

Leadership Lessons from Over 200 Thought Leaders


Voices of Influence

A few years ago, I launched this blog with the idea of sharing insights, ideas, and inspiration.  It is my hope that the lessons and ideas shared here help you in some way whether that is fast-tracking your career or overcoming procrastination.

When I started, I thought it was worth it if I made a real difference to just one person.

I’m happy to report that at least one person has found it life-changing.  That person is me.  I learn far more by sharing these ideas than you can imagine.  What an incredible experience to have the opportunity to learn from so many people.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing these posts.  I appreciate all of you and look forward to getting to know you better in the coming months.

Below are some of the leadership interviews and posts with thought leaders from a variety of fields on numerous topics.  I hope you find one you missed and that it positively influences your year ahead.


“The book you don’t read won’t help.” –Jim Rohn



Leadership, Management & Execution


“You will be the same person in 5 years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” -Charlie Jones


Leadership Communication

5 Tips to Avoid a Branding Collision

Car Wreck with a car rolled over


A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a traffic jam.  Not the slow moving type, but the “get comfortable you’re going nowhere type” that shouts, “You missed your morning meeting!”  Realizing that a traffic accident could be to blame, I decided to practice gratitude.

“I am thankful that I am in a comfortable car, safe and sound.  God, if someone is in an accident up ahead, please be with them and provide comfort.”

A short time later, the traffic began to move.  It’s a good thing because I can only meditate for so long before I feel trapped.  I’m sure I was there for at least an hour practicing mindfulness and gratitude, which means I was stopped for about 27 seconds.


Accident Ahead

As we moved up, sure enough, I could see what was causing the delay:  an accident.  I did what you would do.  I steeled my eyes on the road ahead and drove without so much as glancing.  Yeah, sure you do.  Trying to keep moving, I glanced ever so quickly to note the vehicles, the emergency responders, and a fleeting view of the injured.  I try not to look—I’ve read that rubberneckers cause numerous secondary accidents—but I’ve also read that looking may be good for you.  Eric G. Wilson, the author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can’t Look Away, argues that it helps us understand life’s deeper meaning.

At the very least, we can tell ourselves that studying wrecks helps us learn from others’ mistakes.

As with accidents, I watch corporate disasters the same way.  Several memorable disasters including Bridgestone’s tire recall, JetBlue’s trapping passengers onboard as categorized by Business Insider.  Anything from the Paula Deen meltdown to Target’s PR nightmare qualifies.

This past week, I witnessed a different type of branding wreckage.  Sure, it may not be as noteworthy as the mistakes above.  It doesn’t involve a consumer brand name, and it doesn’t endanger anyone’s health nor involve racist or offensive remarks.

Still, it provides lessons that are worth exploring.


“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” –Philip Kotler


Platform Confusion

Last week, the National Speakers Association (NSA) announced it was jettisoning its venerable brand in favor of a new name.  That name is Platform.  Though I was not in attendance, I almost immediately was made aware of the announcement via emails, texts and tweets. (See also Rory Vaden‘s excellent post on this subject).


It was almost as if I could hear the tires screeching, the glass shattering, the metal twisting.  This was a branding collision, and the onlookers would be gathering to watch.  Why?

First two disclosures:



One of my close friends is Michael Hyatt.  He is the NYT Bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  He runs a conference called the Platform Conference and has an online community that will make your head spin at Platform University.  He was the driving force encouraging me to blog.  On the book jacket, you will see my endorsement:

“Michael Hyatt, one of the pioneers of social networking and blogging, shares his successful blueprint for raising your visibility. Learn from his experience and save yourself time, money and frustration by following his step-by-step advice.”

What I Learned On the Way to 200,000 Twitter Followers

Twitter bigstock-Bluebird-Sitting-On-Branch-Po-32634614

Slightly over two years ago, I decided to join Twitter.  I didn’t have a blog.  I wasn’t on Facebook (I’m still not really, but that’s the subject for another time).  I wasn’t a celebrity.

About a month after joining Twitter, I launched this blog in December of 2011.  Leadership Insights is now two years old.

Learning from Others

Learning how to use Twitter was my first goal.  All around me were experts.  My friend and best selling author and social media expert Michael Hyatt was encouraging me to join.  For some reason still unknown, his Twitter feed was embedded into my desktop even without me joining the service.  I was able to see him Tweet for months.  Many of those tweets made no sense because they were replies, but I learned by watching.

Then I attended a Preds game with another friend, best-selling author Karen Kingsbury, and her family.  Karen graciously sat with me, walking me through the ins and outs of Twitter and how she used it to connect with her loyal fans.  I think I was looking at her phone more than the ice during that game because I don’t even recall who won.

Yet another best selling author friend came to visit Nashville, and I sat with Margaret Atwood at dinner and received another tutorial.  Her use of Twitter was vastly different, and so I began to see how personal style was important.

That was the first few weeks, but many others with huge numbers of Twitter followers started to give me advice.

Jumping In

I began to blog and wrote a post on Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Twitter Any Longer; later I wrote 13 Tips for Twitter Effectiveness. Last year, I even wrote a note to Santa for my Twitter wish list.

Never did I think I would be near 200,000 followers in just over two years.

You think, well, sure you had all these amazing friends and that’s how it started.  I thought that, too.  After several friends with many followers sent notes to “Follow @SkipPrichard,” I thought I would be on the way.  The reality was that it barely moved my numbers.  Then, after a month or two, my followers started dropping.  I would get to 300, then go backwards.

Finally, I decided to not think about it.  My goal was not numbers but to really use the service to connect with others, to share, and to learn.

Random Learning

A few things I learned along the way:

You will get out of it what you put into it. The best way to learn is by jumping in.

Be yourself. 

Decide: What’s your purpose? What do you want to get out of it? You may just want to watch and listen.  You may want to share or meet new people.

Upload a picture.  Don’t be an egghead!

Have a follow-back policy.  Are you going to follow everyone back?  Be highly selective about who you follow?  It’s up to you.  Remember you can change your mind later.

Make sure your bio reflects your purpose. Make it clear why people should follow you.

Follow people you’re interested in.

Watch out for spammers.

It’s a resource.  Once I was in a camera store trying to decide what to buy as a gift.  A quick message to my friend and world class photography instructor @SkipCohen and I had my answer. Another time I was in New Orleans looking for some good gumbo. Ten minutes later we were in a restaurant ordering the best gumbo in the city.

Learn.  So many opportunities to learn.