This is the second post in the leadership series. For the first post – click here.
What does it mean to put others first? We see the opposite very often in our workplaces. We witness our bosses stealing our credit and in fact even berating us despite achieving the result. Several managers are extremely reluctant to shower praise on their employees and even if it comes, it is usually qualified. They say something like, “This is good, but you can’t get complacent” or “You did well but there were a lot of factors going right for you this time”. Some managers just refuse to recognize the contribution and such people usually do not showcase the achievements of the team to the higher ups. Why do some people do this?
Simple. Insecurity. People who are reluctant to praise are usually very afraid of their own weaknesses. They are afraid that when they praise someone else a part of themselves somehow diminish. This usually happens when these people have been brought up in a highly comparative manner. They are told by their parents or teachers or the society in general that someone else is far better then them. “Oh look at Mark he is such a responsible person” or “Look at your cousin Priya, she already owns a house at 28”. These statements destroy the connection a person has with themself. Comparison destroy self confidence and self-knowledge. And this is linked to what we discussed in the last post, where we said great leaders are deeply connected to themselves. In order to stop comparisons, we need to start connecting with ourselves. We need to recognize that part of ourselves which is beyond the reach of social comparisons. Ask yourself “What would you do and continue to do it even if you had no recognition from anybody”. Find this out and you have found a part of yourself.
Leaders who know themselves are secure of both their strengths and their weaknesses.
People who know themselves are secure of both their strengths and their weaknesses. They know where they are most likely to fail and also know where they can easily bring their skills into action. These people are natural leaders. They need not razzmatazz people with audacious and flamboyant talk. They know what they know. And they know what they don’t know. And they are okay with both. Since they recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. They have the ability to genuinely recognize them in others. They can praise since they know nothing externally can take away their sense of well-being and confidence. These leaders make wonderful bosses. They nudge, they nurture, they reprimand when needed, they encourage – they invest their time and energy in their team-mates. They sincerely want to bring out the best in others, for they know that only when everybody’s fears are ameliorated and the team has a sense of joy – can the best come out from everybody.
These leaders put others first. This means that they recognize talent and push them to higher levels. They invest in people. They invest their trust in people and aren’t afraid to be let down. For they work in the greater interest of the team and the firm as opposed to a narrow path of themselves. A good leader has this ability to work for the greater good without an overt focus on themselves. It isn’t that such people are saints or completely altruistic. No! They do have boundaries that should not be crossed. But being secure in themselves, they work in the best interest of the people and organization. They go on to become those extraordinary leaders that are talked about decades after they have physically gone.
Therefore, let us reflect on who we are. Are we secure? Or do we feel jealous of our subordinates? Do we feel a sense of superiority? Do we feel that we need to assert and even dominate the team? Be honest with the question and this might lead to some honest answers. If it is yes, start looking into yourself and see where this insecurity arises. Accept it and start working on who you are and what you want in life. This will align you to a sense of self-confidence which comes naturally from within. This is the beginning of building great teams – where you can put others first. Good Luck.