Far too many individuals would prefer to elevate themselves by standing still – content to remain within their self-imagined importance and fragile sense of worth – by removing “the competition” and diminishing the spirits of those around them RATHER THAN by lifting others up to a higher level we should all seek. Avoiding accountability or responsibility within a relationship by bringing those around you down rather than lifting them up – by seemingly elevating oneself as others falter – does not result in gain but rather in standing firmly on ground that has been previously walked yet feeling yourself much better than those floundering in troubled waters (into which you – intentionally or unintentionally – banished them). This destructive demotivation can happen at work, in life and even within relationships when one (or both) parties exaggerate their self-importance and perceived contributions to a controlling level above those of the engaged partner (team or group). While many of our shortcomings are a result of our personal actions (or inactions), others are a result of personality issues (strengths and flaws) that interfere with our ability to interact with others.
It has been said that someone perpetually late for meetings is driven by one of three characteristics. They are either controlling (wanting to make sure that others know their importance), overly focused on details (not wanting to leave a project until a stopping point is reached) or are insecure (needing the attention and validation from others that being late brings). None of these are good reasons to keep others from working, contributing or problem-solving but all focus more on an individual (their wants, needs, desires or personality characteristics) than on the good of all involved. Whenever an individual NEEDS to finish one project before moving on to the next (or, alternatively, has NO INTEREST OR DESIRE to look into all the facts before making a decision OR cannot make a decision until ALL the facts have been reviewed and all the remote possibilities explored), talk more than they listen (or speak as if with a sturdy stick rather than a gentle voice), personality factors may be in play. While it is difficult to change “who we are” it is possible to alter “how we look and act” to and towards others as long as we have a good reason to alter our perspectives or a worthwhile reward (or punishment) is linked to actions our actions. Whenever we change ourselves to accomplish something we would not normally set as a high priority, however, we should recognize that no matter how successful we are in changing ourselves into something that seems to be different we will ALWAYS revert back to who we are should we experience stress or be pushed beyond our limits.
Doing things the same way they have always been done rarely produces results different than what has already been accomplished. While not always a bad thing, progress is jeopardized and results minimized when someone perceived to be “large and in charge” shifts all the blame to others while seeking to claim all the positive praise for themselves. Leadership should be seen as credible, trusted and wise (wisdom being the appropriate application of knowledge and experience to accomplish a task through others or build others up to accomplish great things)...as fallible and sincere...as honest and approachable. Far too often a new leader sits back and takes comfort in the misconception that he or she “has arrived” when receiving their promotion rather than realizing that the opportunity is only the first step on their journey towards continued growth. Far too many relationships have been destroyed by a self-seeking and self-serving partner feeling that he or she is THE reason for success, THE financial driver, THE only one with any needs and THE only one to set the relationship’s agenda. The same holds true within a work setting...those IN CHARGE often find that the only one listening is themselves (as they carry on about how good they might be) and that those around them have become strangely distant (why compete with another’s self-perception?).
Leaders recognize and respect rules – and typically seek to understand WHY they might be in existence and WHAT they might be accomplishing before doing anything to alter or change the rule by focusing on its origination and intent rather than its results and repercussions. Supervisors or Managers often use rules as a weapon – relying upon them regardless of the circumstance and blaming them for any problem, discipline or termination. “I would love to work with you but the rules are pretty clear on what I must do” is such a transfer of power that the manager might as well forfeit his or her authority. A great leader (in any setting) should be able to explain the “why” of rules and recognize not only the absolute value of word meanings but also their intent. Compromise (consistent and fair) tends to be most practical within any relationship (be it at work or at home). There are very few “bright lines” as to “what cannot be done” unless it impacts life, livelihood, safety, trust or an organization’s bottom line.
Leadership within organizations or within a relationship (service group or body of individuals) is not that much different. One must establish credibility in order to lead (OR to be heard) – a leader who does not know what is being done by those he or she leads and fails to identify the reason they enjoy (hopefully) their work will not be able to command the respect needed to motivate performance or maintain engagement. A leader within any setting must be able to communicate clearly and effectively – and communication is not telling, ordering or dictating that something be done in a certain way within a given timeframe allowing for no independent thoughts. Sometimes, in fact, silence and intent concentration on what another might be thinking, saying or feeling shouts much more loudly than words ever could.