The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Friday, October 25, 2013


We often overlook the fact that management catalyzes and nearly always epitomizes change. We create problems when we promote our “best workers” into leadership roles without providing them the tools needed to motivate others into doing the work they once accomplished. We continually move risk-averse “super-workers” into roles that require them to take ownership for (and lead) organizational change. We may inadvertently inflate one’s value while diminishing the value that others contribute to the team – a prideful condition that can render the new leader totally ineffective.

Pride can be good (as in the pride one feels when a team helps to accomplish a major goal and is recognized for its part in the process) or it can be bad (when it becomes the “me” driver of a “we” accomplishment). We must recognize the “good pride” and work to eliminate the “bad pride” if we wish to effectively motivate others. When making decisions that influence or control the actions of others, avoid the following:

• Prideful leaders devalue the work and efforts of others, often claiming individual ownership of the team’s results. When an individual consistently puts his or her own welfare ahead of their team’s, a self-centered blindness can keep them from hearing (let alone acting on) the suggestions of others.
• Prideful leaders have difficulty hearing others. Leaders need to know how to resolve what they can, recognize what is beyond their personal capabilities, and seek help (with humility) in order to initiate necessary change.
• Prideful leaders think they “know everything,” failing to see the need to “learn anything new.” Once a prideful leader feels they have “arrived,” unless they continue to seek life’s lessons from the people, places and things around them, he or she will begin a descent into obsolescence. When pride elevates one above needing others, failure becomes not a matter of “if” but rather of “when.”
• Deferral is an ally to a prideful leader, often shifting fault to others, often remaining silent (as if nothing had happened) if blame cannot be deferred. They often find it hard to say, “Thank you” or “I’m sorry” (as they are not truly grateful nor are they often reticent).
• Prideful leaders are not compelled to move on, up, or forward. They are often so content with “what is” they could care less about “what could be.” They often feel and act as though “above” the rules (which obviously control or apply to someone else).
• Pride can destroy relationships. When one “loves (or finds great comfort in) him- or herself,” there is often very little room left for anyone else. The feeling of self-advancement caused by caring for “number one” can cloud what might otherwise be an obvious choice – blurring an otherwise clear organizational direction.

When a leader focuses more on results than worrying about who receives the credit, great things can happen. It takes intentional and deliberate action, however, if we want someone to become an exceptional, unselfish leader. We must encourage him or her to:

• Act with consistency and reasonableness – treating everyone equitably based upon their contributions to the whole (as opposed to equally where everyone is the considered to be the same).
• Speak with sincerity when giving directions, suggestions or comments – taking the time to explain not only the “what” but also the “why” of each request.
• Allow yourself to be lifted “up the ladder” upon the outstretched hands of those around you – as they support you – rather than “climbing over them as if they were the rungs of a ladder on the way to the top.”
• Watch and listen attentively to others, acting appropriately to what you see and what you hear. Give credit when it is due and provide guidance when change is required. Accept blame for the mistakes you make and help others learn from (rather than being destroyed for) their failures.

Remember to speak softly as you act loudly – praise generously while accepting accolades reluctantly – and you should be able to avoid the traps that pride places in front of you on your leadership.