Leadership is not about personal greatness and authority; It is humility to lead with courage and enthusiasm
Have you ever thought that praise can be negative? I do not think so. After all, it looks harmless and seems quite effective. Conventional wisdom says that if you praise people, they are motivated to do better.
People who have been appreciated throughout their life for their talent and smartness by their good parents, friends and teachers or who have experienced excessive attention to talent and smartness in childhood, learn to value intelligence only. No wonder these people continue to seek approval and demand praise every step of the way when they enter the workforce.
Every opportunity is the measure of his intelligence – Do I look smart, how will I be judged, what if others find my views dumb, All of their work is rooted in establishing their value, with a focus on validating themselves. Every mistake hurts his reputation, and every failure shows his potential. They care less about learning and more about proving themselves. Their sense of morality sometimes takes a hit as they resort to cruel behavior – demeaning others by yelling, insulting, controlling or taking undue credit – all in an effort to boost their self-esteem.
Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, summarizes this unfortunate reality from Morgan McCall’s book High Flyers –
“People often prefer things that work against their development. . . . People like to use their strengths . . . to achieve quick, dramatic results, even if . . . aren’t developing what they’ll need later. People like to believe they’re as good as everyone says… and don’t take their weaknesses as seriously as they can. People are bad do not like to hear the news or receive criticism.
They feed and foster this mindset. He praises people for his brilliant ideas, messages, “We value talent and smarts.” They offer people rewards and bonuses for their achievements, telling everyone else that “we only care about success.”
What happens when these people take on leadership roles? Their mindset of valuing talent above everything else increases, leading to disastrous results. History is full of leadership failures with great promises which proved to be the biggest disaster. This article by Malcolm Gladwell the new Yorker It is as valid today as it was 18 years ago. Describing the talent mindset at Enron and the McKinsey consultants who walked down the hallways at the company’s headquarters, he explains –
“They were out there looking for people who had the talent to think outside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed to be fixed.”
He also talks about the impact of an environment that values innate talent and what happens when times get tough and that self-image is threatened. “They have difficulty with outcomes. They are remedial. Will not take courses. They will not stand before investors and the public and admit they were wrong. They will lie quickly.”
Is praising people for their intelligence and achievements the only way to develop those who will be the leaders of tomorrow? Is there a better way?
What if we learned about people for their hard work, ability to persist in the face of setbacks and setbacks, take the initiative to build new skills, stand up for their mistakes, believe in their growth, and implement the right strategies to overcome Praise for their drawbacks? What does this type of praise tell them?
It tells them the value of effort in building capabilities. It teaches them the importance of implementing the right strategies to solve problems. This encourages them to seek help to make progress on their work. It instills a passion for learning that is driven not by the need to look smart but by a desire to develop skills, to develop oneself.
When these people take leadership positions, this mindset guides them to put the well-being of the company and its people before their own needs, to value teamwork over individual achievement, and to promote the growth and development of their people.
“As growth-minded leaders, they start with a belief in human potential and growth – both of themselves and of others. Instead of using the company as a vehicle for their greatness, they use it as a vehicle for growth. We use it as an engine – for ourselves, for the employees, and for the company as a whole.” — Carol Dweck
Unlike leaders who focus their companies on talent, these leaders lead their companies in greatness and gratitude to the hearts of themselves and those around them.
Choose your compliments carefully, as you will see tremendous benefits in giving praise for the development of talent.
They live in a world of personal greatness and authority, vie for labels, and will do anything to promote their image. Instead of building a long-lasting company, they spend time and money enhancing their image.
With a constant need for validation, they use people in the company to feed their ego and show their superiority. It’s all about making the boss happy. They surround themselves with people who boost their self-esteem. Compromise praises them, and disagreement is an attack on their intelligence. Instead of listening to people, they punish dissent and shut people down.
They pounce on less talented people for their lack of intelligence and find people who are more talented than them are just as dangerous. They abuse, yell, humiliate, control and abuse employees in the way they work. They feel better about themselves by making other people feel bad. Employees are concerned about justice being done all the time. When people are ridiculed for their mistakes, they soon learn to keep their heads down, stop using their critical thinking skills, and think about the group.
Their belief in their superiority prevents them from seeing reality. They turn a blind eye to complaints, ignore warning signs and fire people who tell them what they don’t want to hear. Their decision-making criteria are based on what is good for the company as opposed to what is good for them in the long run.
What happens when a leader refuses to face the brutal facts?
“The moment a leader allows himself to be the primary reality that people worry about, the primary reality instead of the reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse. This is a major reason why the less charismatic Leaders often produce better long-term results than their more charismatic counterparts.” — Jim Collins
Since success and failure are a part of their identity – success means they are smart, and failure means they are not – they look for excuses and blame others for failures rather than taking personal responsibility. Instead of investing in the future growth of their company, they are protected by the fear of failure, become less responsive to challenges from the competition, go with what is tried and tested, and refuse to take risks . Why take up a challenge that hurts his reputation? On the contrary, they cannot shy away from crossing moral boundaries to beat the competition at all costs. Success is what they want, and it doesn’t matter how they get it.
With more focus on talent and less on potential, they do not invest in mentoring and coaching employees. Instead of keeping practices in place to help employees develop and collaborate, they motivate them to compete against each other.
Carol Dweck summed up her brilliant mindset “My talent not only defines and validates me. It defines and validates the company. It’s what creates value. My talent is profit. Excellent!”
They work in learning mode. They do not claim to be genius but promise to invest in their own development and development of their people. The drive and enthusiasm to grow their companies drives them to adopt a long-term strategy over a short-term strategy. They are not in the game to boost their ego or establish their self-esteem. It is the pure joy of shaping the future of his company that excites and inspires him. More than prestige, they are up to the challenge in this.
They understand that the road to success is through failure. Why miss out on the opportunity that could trigger their future growth? So, instead of hiding behind their failures, they face them head on. Failures do not define their potential. They are shining moments of self-reflection. They are opportunities to build skills, explore possibilities, experiment and invest in the promise of a better future.
They lead with vulnerability. They admit mistakes in order to focus in the organization on finding solutions instead of hiding mistakes. When they don’t know anything, instead of pretending to hide their ignorance, they say, “I don’t know.” These three powerful words show humility and confidence. To make decisions, they invite others to share their opinions, fostering a culture of constructive criticism. Since they do not tie their identity to their opinion, greater value is placed in the search for correct answers, which require open disagreement and flexibility of opinion on their sense of religiosity.
Tough situations make them uncomfortable, no doubt about it. Instead of letting their discomfort get in the way of a meaningful conversation, they embrace it. They like to see their discomfort in the value provided by these discussions – saving a lot of time wasted due to stress and anxiety from misalignment of expectations and lack of clarity of purpose.
They are tough but kind. They do not shy away from providing critical feedback while also challenging the people in their organization to step outside their comfort zones. They empower people to make decisions with the right channels of feedback to help them make better decisions in the organization.
Growth-minded leaders work with what Lou Gerstner, who almost turned IBM’s fortune from bankruptcy, said in “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance” –
“Hierarchy means little to me. Let’s put together people in meetings who can help solve a problem, regardless of the situation.”
Not blinded by reality, they are focused on finding solutions that will move their company forward. This requires keeping an open eye on changes in market trends, identifying and investing in future growth areas, and taking calculated risks.
With a focus on competence and development, they invest in identifying and building the organization’s future skills – skills that will be useful during difficult situations that will give them an advantage over the competition. They promote productivity through coaching and mentoring, place value on teamwork by encouraging collaboration, and define shared measures of success.
Warren Bennis, a scholar and author widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership studies, writes in “Organizing Genius” –
“Leaders are people who believe so passionately that they can seduce other people into sharing their dreams.”
His most laudable outlook on leadership says –
“Good leaders make people feel like they are at the center of things, not on the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference in the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel focused and it makes their job better.” gives meaning.”
What kind of leaders think this way – those who focus on talent or those driven by growth?