Friday, April 8, 2011

Self-Serving Leadership

Who are you serving as a leader? Are you serving yourself or those you lead? I am exposed to many leadership styles daily in the consulting work that I do and it is often good to sit down and reflect on my observations, and do a little introspection. I came across this recently from Ken Blanchard:

Interesting concept on the "self-serving" leader. I have often been viewed as someone with strong opinions and a rather defined viewpoint when it comes to leadership. I have also been guilty of the defensiveness that Dr. Blanchard describes. What I have learned over time is to take a breath and try to get past the emotional reaction to criticism and look at the comments in context. And yes, that is easier said than done.

I have worked for some folks who were very good at this, but they number on one hand. On both hands and feet I count the number I have worked for that really suck at it and it is always a challenge to have the strength to speak up when you can tell by their words and body language that you are probably better served talking to the chair they are sitting in. It is easy to get discouraged by this. But if you care about that leader and your relationship with him or her, keep at it. Taking the time to listen with an open mind to feedback is not an easy task, but it will yield dividends for you and those that you lead. Listening to feedback with a desire to understand and improve is the only way a true leader can become better at serving those they lead.

It is a challenge that you will have to face often before you can become better at it, but don't give up. Keep at it and try your best to be as understanding of the criticism you receive as you are of the criticism you give.

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