Don’t Let Leadership Go to Your Head

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.

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

Shift Your State

Anese Cavanaugh’s new work, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives is a terrific guide to upping your leadership and creating a positive, contagious atmosphere.

After our first interview, I thought to ask Anese about some of her tips for shifting someone’s state. Why? Because it’s one of the most important aspect of leadership. The ability to help someone from one state to another is a skill that every leader should master.

 

Leadership Tip: Increase your awareness of what is working and the impact your choices have.

 

7 Game Changers

In your work as an advisor and “thinking partner” to leaders and organizations, you developed 7 game changers to shift someone’s state. What has been your experience using them as a coaching tool?Anese Cavanaugh

I’ve found that even offering these as places for people to look can make them game changers within themselves. So much of this work is about awareness. Awareness as to what’s working – and what’s not, awareness of their role and impact in how things are and how their choices have led them here, awareness that they can choose, awareness that there’s dissatisfaction, awareness of the impact their relationships have on them (and vice versa), and awareness that they can very much in fact do something to shift things – even if that something is just getting a bit of extra water, finding ONE thing they’re grateful for, telling someone they see how great they are, taking ownership and cleaning something up, asking for help, or finding (and claiming) the request (or wish) that lives underneath their complaint. Once they have awareness that these 7 things have impact – they can get into action. Big or small.

 

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

1: Do your work. Be accountable for your choices.

2: Stop complaining and start resolving.

3: Ask for help-admit your glorious imperfections.

4: Surround yourself with good people.

5: Practice gratitude, even for the stuff that hurts.

6: Eat well. Really well. Move your body. Drink water.

7: Love your kids. Love your friends. Love your people. Love yourself. Remember who you are.

 

Simple ways to integrate these 7 points is to take each one and try it on for a day. For example, ask: Where do I need to show up bigger? Where can I be more accountable for the choices I’ve made? How did my choices lead me here? What choice can I make now to start shifting this in the right direction? How would I like things to be instead? Where do I need help? Where am I making “looking good” more important than asking for help or creating real and positive impact? Who’s my professional posse / my advisory board? How am I taking care of myself? (Truly?) What’s the littlest thing I can do to shift ANY of these? Little things make big ripples.

 

Shift From Complaining to Doing

The Powerful Implications of Positive, Contagious Emotions

This is a guest post by my friend, author and speaker, Shawn Murphy. Shawn is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. I’m excited that his book, The Optimistic Workplace is now available.

Be Positive

As a leader, you have the greatest influence on those whom you lead. A good day for you can lift the spirits of your team. Research shows that your positive emotions are contagious. Certainly the opposite is true. Yet, there is greater significance when you spread positive, contagious emotions. That is the focus of this article.

 

“Your presence has a powerful influence on your team.” -Shawn Murphy

 

Distinguished psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson has devoted much of her research to positive, contagious emotions. She defines them as emotions such as joy, love, or inspiration. When these or other positive emotions are present, they expand our thinking and actions to complementary effects. Positive emotions drive related behaviors that inspire others to mimic them when observed. For example, if you are feeling inspired in a brainstorming meeting and you show it, it will likely rub-off on others who will model similar behaviors. Thus the emotion becomes contagious.

 

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard

 

Benefits of Positive, Contagious Emotions

Positive, contagious emotions benefit your team and help drive towards desired organizational outcomes. These emotions help shape the work climate to be optimistic. Individuals thrive because of these two influences on performance.

Higher Team Performance

Simply put, positive emotions make you feel good. And when you feel good you perform at higher levels. It’s easier for you to reach peak performance. When you regularly experience positive emotions, you continually grow toward optimal functioning. A team influenced by positive, contagious emotions performs at higher levels.

Positive SeOptimistic Workplacelf-Identity

When you feel good about yourself and your contributions, you are more likely to experience higher levels of creativity and resiliency. What Fredrickson has learned from her research is that positive emotions have an encouraging influence on a person’s identity and well-being.

Stronger Relationships

Relationships are stronger and healthier where positive, contagious emotions are prevalent. Employees are seen as key partners in the success of the team and ultimately in the organization. Employees want to know that they are valued and not just some number built into the company’s balance sheet.

 

“A team influenced by positive, contagious emotions performs at higher levels.” -Shawn Murphy

 

Implications of Positive, Contagious Emotions

As a leader, you personally benefit by demonstrating actions that evoke positive emotions. The implications listed below have significant influence on your own satisfaction as a leader. The implications also help shape the climate so that workplace optimism can emerge.

Inspire People to Overcome Challenges