There are many potential obstacles as you forge a path through the leadership jungle, but perhaps the one most likely to grab hold of you and suck you under — truly the quicksand of good leadership — is ego.
I’m not talking about confidence here. Confidence and ego, while often seen as one in the same, are really quite different. Confidence is inwardly focused . . . you have faith in your ability to come up with the best solution. Ego is externally focused . . . you want others to believe you have it all figured out. Confidence is calm, quiet even. Ego is brash and always trying to be in the limelight.
How do you know if you are approaching leadership quicksand, or if you’re already there, how do you keep from being swallowed alive? Here are a few tips for how to know if you are no longer standing on solid ground.
- You are so sure you know the “best way” that you stop listening to the ideas and input of others.
Pull your self out of the quagmire by asking others to contribute their best thinking to the issue. If you really have the best idea, it will stand up to different perspectives. And if others’ thinking makes your original ideal even better, then everyone is a winner!
- You consistently take credit for the good work of your team.
If you’re stuck in quicksand, it is helpful to have someone there to help you out. If you’ve been pushing your team into the shadows . . . well, good luck. A confident leader knows his or her team will be there when things get tough, because they’ve been walking along side the leader the entire time.
- You blame others when things don’t go the way you intended.
After all, as noted in #1 above, you knew the best way, right? So it must be someone else’s fault. Except while you are sputtering around, sinking deeper and pointing the finger at others, the confident leader is finding a path up and out of the current situation.
- You think you are entitled to, or have earned, certain privileges.
It’s okay to ask for things to make your jungle journey easier. To expect them every time, or to get snarky when they don’t happen . . . feel yourself sinking? Sincere appreciation for the efforts of others will go a long way toward keeping you on solid ground.
You get the idea. It’s not about you. Which is not to say you aren’t a critical part of the equation. It’s when you start to think you’re the only part of the equation that really matters that you get sucked under.
It is a jungle out there. Don’t make the journey harder than it needs to be. Check your ego, and walk around the leadership quicksand.