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Daily Leadership Thought #136 – Focus On The Good Of The Group And Keep Egos In Check

May 11, 2011

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When in a leadership position, the good of the group over the needs of any individual including yourself.

It never ceases to amaze me how much a group of people can accomplish if no one individual cares too much about who gets the credit.  However, in most organizations, there is far too much-wasted energy on “ego” related issues and worrying about the wrong things.   This often starts at the top of the organization.  It is because our society has put too much emphasis on fame and celebrity.  Everyone wants to be somebody, but they are not sure what that means or what it costs, or the right way to get there.   Consequently, we have become much too concerned with what others are doing and how we stack up against their efforts.

When all is said and done, most of us won’t have any lasting fame or fortune.  Our legacy will be what we left behind when no one was watching.  It will be the little things: the small acts of kindness and generosity that will leave an indelible mark on our family, close friends, and colleagues.  If you become too obsessed with your outputs, then you won’t pay enough attention to your inputs.  The key is to focus on what type of leader and person you are becoming and how you are affecting others.  Are people better off because you are a part of their lives? Are you a good role model? Would anyone want to work for you, or be your colleague?

I am certainly an advocate of accountability.  When someone commits to doing something, they should get it done.  There is an epidemic of false promises and excuses in the workplace today.  However, if we would all spend less time focusing on our individual needs and more time on our common goals, aspirations, and the good of the group, then I believe many of our systems would self-correct.

What we often do today is pit people against one another through either material rewards or limited advancement opportunities.  Survival of the fittest may be a good biological theory but it’s a tough way to run an organization and lead people.  We have fallen victim to the “special person” mindset of management, thinking everyone can and should be “A” players when that is not a realistic objective.

As a leader, you get to decide what you are going to build and how you are going to build it.  Your most important construction project will be the culture you create and foster within the confines of your work environment.  People will either operate with a higher collective purpose and a sense of mutual self-interest or not.  It all starts with you and how much you need to feed your own ego with personal accolades and self-aggrandizement.   You need to be able to give up control and trust others.  You must know when to step forward and when to take a back seat.  Your organization will be built upon the decisions you make regarding your people and who and how you choose to acknowledge and promote.  Ultimately, it will come down to how you define success and the path you choose to get there.