What comes to mind when you see that phrase "CAUTION: Danger Ahead"? Often those words generate anxiety about something pending or that might appear and be realized soon. Traditionally, it has been a warning based on a previous experience or presumed risk. Often, it is preceded by a yellow sign with DANGER AHEAD displayed.
But today, I want you to recognize that in Leadership, the "danger ahead" caution might not come from outside forces, and traditional yellow warning signs are not present. Today, I want to bring your attention to the dangers from within. Say it isn't so, right? But sadly, it is so. Let us explore some characteristics I have witnessed that can derail a leader from within. They are:
1. Lack of respect - Not respecting the "brand" you represent.
2. Insensitivity - Assuming no one cares or notices
3. Deceit – Deception and dishonesty
4. Selfishness – What is in it for me?
If you find that you are dishonest with yourself, you should assume that others see it as well.
Often, persons with these characteristics try to hide them as much as possible. But these traits get exposed through foolish conversation and pointless arguments. Why? Because when you are relaxed, the real you will get exposed. So the initial question to consider before you try to assess where you stand on the derailing characteristics is this: Are you being and behaving as your authentic self? I hesitate to make any generalizations, but when you are not yourself, you should ask yourself, what am I hiding? If your personality and principles fluctuate between work, home, and community, who are you? If you find that you are dishonest with yourself, you should assume that others see it as well. They may not tell you, but no lie will live forever. This blog is not to judge you, but to enlighten and intensify your self-awareness.
Lack of Respect
As a leader, you always represent a brand. It might be your brand or the company's brand. Branding is always important because it helps others know what to expect. It is how some distinguish themselves from their competitors. For example, as a parent, I erroneously called all disposable diapers Pampers. I associated the brand, Pampers, with the product, diaper. So when I went to purchase diapers, I subconsciously looked for Pampers. Pampers had done a great job of getting their brand recognized. I shared that flaw in my thinking to help you see why leaders must remember that they too represent a brand. What we do could inadvertently impact the brand. When leaders respect the brand, they must be cognizant of how they represent and are associated with it.
Insensitivity is a lack of concern for others' feelings. Remember, being a leader means someone is following you. So when you have a disregard for the feelings of others, you can be sure that it will affect their loyalty, performance, and future relationship. People try to distance themselves from an insensitive person as often as possible. I can not tell you the number of times I have overheard a leader say, "It doesn't matter because no one cares." But, as I grew in confidence and advanced in position, I learned to challenge those words and let them know I cared.
At the risk of being redundant, but to capture my point, again, I say, "no lie will live forever." With the onset of social media and this instant-response generation of consumers, lies are readily recognized and called out. Deceitful leaders are being exposed for who they are, whether in business, religion, or families. Time is over for leaders that mislead or bully others to suppress the truth. Look, this is nothing new, but what is new is the fact that technology has made it easier to document and prove when leaders deceive.
These days, we live in an "I" focused environment. So much so, a successful branding technique even starts with "I." Honestly, it is extremely easy to be focused solely on self. So why should leaders suppress the "what's in it for me syndrome" thoughts?. I mean, you work hard, right? You sacrificed to be where you are, right? You deserve it.
As you ponder those questions, let's examine what gets done without
the assistance, work, or support of others. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit you are hard-pressed to accomplish anything alone. If you don't believe me, try it. At some point, others will need to assist you. I used to hear older persons complain about aches and pain. Often they would say, keep living; you too will eventually understand. Well, I have found that to be great truth and wisdom. Imagine where our businesses, families, environments, and world would be if we could suppress our selfishness and forge partnerships or alliances...intentionally.
Are you being and behaving as your authentic self?
I can recall a profound and impressionable statement that read, "Don't let your talent get you where your character can't keep you." So begin to notice the council and company that you keep. Make sure they are helping you to become wiser. Are you accountable to them, and are they accountable to you? They can most assuredly help you deal with the "dangers from within."
Now go forth and #LEADPerpetually.
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