Pride and Insecurity: Leadership Killers

One day I was leading a meeting with a group of about 25 managers that reported to me. At the opening of our meetings we would always discuss a leadership topic. On this particular day I choose responsiveness. As I was speaking about the importance of being responsive to customers, other departments, and our team one of the managers raised her hand. What came next was gut check time…Pride and Insecurity

      ” I sent you an email two weeks ago asking you a question. I have been waiting for a response but have not receive it. I do not think that is being very responsive.”

As a leader there are going to be times when our response to a situation will reveal our true leadership. We should not let our pride or insecurity kill our leadership.

Your pride will be the devil on your shoulder convincing you that you are the most intelligent and important person in the room. Your pride will elevate you above all others. Once you elevate yourself above others their opinions, ideals, and feelings no longer matter. Would you follow someone who is indifferent to your opinions, ideals, and feelings? Leadership Killer.

Insecurity is the devil on your other shoulder whispering you better defend and cover up your mistakes because you are not good enough. Our insecurities can cause us to lash out or attack others in order to deflect attention from our own mistakes. Insecurity keeps us in a defensive mind frame where we believe the opinions, ideals and feelings of others are an attack on our own. Again…Leadership Killer.

In that moment I had to push back against both my pride and insecurity. As a leader I was not exempt from being responsive. My response…

     “First, let me say I am sorry I have not responded to you. I could say that I have been busy but that is not an excuse. When we meet as a group to discuss leadership topics I am speaking to myself also. As a leader, I have to be more responsive to each of you.”

Acknowledging a mistake takes courage. It takes pushing pass our pride and insecurity. Great leadership requires us to care about the opinions, ideals, and feeling of others. Sometimes at the expense of our own.


Good Leaders Produce Good Fruit

Below is a short story on leadership.

Susan Carson answered her phone.  On the other end was an exasperated Diane Smith.  Diane was a mid-level manager that reported to Susan.  Diane had three team members that reported directly to her.  Susan had a gut feeling that Diane’s frustration was stemming from a run in with one of her team members.

“Susan, I just do not know what to do about Jim!  I do not think he is the right person for the job!”, Diane exclaimed.

As Diane continued to give all the reasons why Jim was not the right person for the job; Susan was thinking that I get this call from Diane every couple of months about one of her team members.  Besides, Jim had only been there 60 days.  How could he be so drastically different from the great person Diane described when she decided to hire him?  Susan had supported Diane in her decisions to hire and terminate team members but this was beginning to become a pattern.  When Diane was finished with her diatribe on Jim,  Susan asked her a question.

“What type of fruit do you bear?”, Susan asked.Good Leaders Produce Good Fruit

After a few seconds of dead silence Diane answered.  “What are you talking about?”

Susan answered.  “You can always tell a good leaders by the fruit they produce.  What type of fruit have you produced from the team that you lead?”

Diane paused again.  “What do you mean by fruit”

Susan answered.  “Your job as a leader is to hire, train, and nurture your team.  If you do a good job you will produce fruit.  By fruit I mean highly trained, motivated, productive, and promotable team members.  You have three positions on your team.  Over the last 12 months you have turned over two of those positions twice.  Now you are telling me that another team member you just hired less than 60 days ago is not working out.  As your leader I am evaluating you based on your ability to lead your team.  Based on the amount of turnover you have experienced,  how do you think I should evaluate your performance?”
“I guess I have not looked at it that way.  But what am I suppose to do when people do not do their job?” , Diane asked.

“Diane, I think you have to ask yourself a different question.  Good leaders ask themselves what role they played when things go bad.  I’m not sure if you are not hiring the right people or failing to nurture and train, but there is an issue.  I want you to take the afternoon to think about what role you have played and what you might be able to do differently.  Once you discover what you can do differently we can talk about Jim.”

As leaders it is our responsibility to produce good fruit(highly trained, motivated , productive, and promotable team members).  Think about the last five individuals you managed.   Are they good fruit?