Mark Cole: A Leader’s Most Dangerous Thought
In my role as the leader of a leadership organization, I spend a lot of time studying other leaders around the world—both past and present. In my studies, I typically look for two different kinds of patterns: patterns that lead to success and patterns that lead to failure.
Today, I want to share a pattern of thinking I’ve observed. It’s a pattern every leader should avoid, and it begins with one thought:
I believe this to be—by far—a leader’s most dangerous thought.
To some degree it’s natural to have entitlement feelings as a leader. Leadership is demanding. It takes a personal toll and, if we’re not careful, we can make it about us. It’s not a difficult position to rationalize.
But once a leader has developed an entitlement pattern of thinking, the organization is in grave danger.
The greatest problem with “I deserve” is how it changes our perspective. We begin to see our contribution as more important than anyone else’s. This creates a “one-way street” mind-set, which leads to a wrong motivation for leadership.
Leadership is not about getting what you want. Leadership is about serving the people around you for the benefit of the team.
“I deserve” thinking threatens our ability to lead because it takes us out of our community. It separates us from the real nature of leadership: serving others.
Trying to make life all about you pushes happiness for everyone else further out of reach. If a leader thinks, “it’s all about me,” then his or her team will think it’s all about them.
The result? No hope for getting along, and certainly no hope for achieving what’s best for the team.
So how do you counteract the “I deserve” mentality? My answer is pretty simple—probably simpler than you would hope for.
Do it everyday. Do it intentionally. And do it consistently.
John Maxwell teaches a simple process that has become a daily practice for me and has revolutionized my mindset as a leader:
- Value people
- Think of ways to add value to people
- Look for ways to add value to people
- Intentionally add value to people
- Encourage others to add value to people
Valuing others helps minimize the entitlement mindset of “I deserve.”
It redirects your focus and energy onto your team rather than yourself.
Remember: leadership is not a position, but a role. And it is about channeling all that you are for the benefit of others. Take a minute to examine your own leadership. Do you have any “I deserve” assumptions? If there are areas in your leadership where you struggle with entitlement, begin counteracting this by developing the habit of valuing others.
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