Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Calling all leaders: It isn't about you, it's about the team! Far too often leaders display narcissistic personality characteristics—because they believe success is totally dependent on them—and forget about the team of individuals who make valuable contributions to achieving the goal. Leaders need to be aware that success can only be accomplished if their team members are consistently respected, appreciated, and acknowledged for their skills and talents.
I'm often astounded when I witness leaders throwing their team under the bus to divert accountability of measures for which they should be responsible. Far too often leaders display the tendency to protect their own reputation and credibility at the cost of their team. A true leader must stand by his or her team with the same pride and respect when being lauded for success as when being scrutinized for failure. Anything less isn't only poor leadership, but also an inexcusable display of poor business ethics.
Most leaders want to be respected by those they supervise. Respect must be earned by consistency and talent, not by virtue of filling a position that has a management title. Simply because your organization has named you to a leadership position doesn't mean you're truly a leader until you have people who are willing to follow you, take risks for you, and share your spirit of inspiration, motivation, and passion for excellence. The key to earning respect from others is to first show them a higher degree of respect than you believe you're entitled to. Respect is granted after there's a consistent display of integrity with each interaction. Failing to show respect will be intimidating to others and erode the possibility of achieving goals, objectives, and targets.
The most highly successful leaders keep their ego out of the equation to ensure the overall success of the organization. Those who dwell on a belief that they're larger than themselves will certainly falter and compromise the success of the whole team. As a leader, your ego must be in a constant state of balance; even a slight shift may derail success. If you become too egocentric, you'll lose the ability to lead your staff members because they'll consider you out of touch with meeting their needs. On the other hand, if your ego becomes torn or shattered, you'll succumb to a lack of confidence that will tamper with your ability to take risks and hamper your innovation and creativity.
At one time or another, we've all witnessed someone driving down the road in an expensive convertible sports car. The driver often looks confident, and you may feel a small twinge of jealousy. In comparing that sports car driver with your own leadership, it's important to remember that you can't go anywhere without a well-engineered, manufactured, and maintained vehicle. It's those who designed, crafted, and implemented that well-oiled machine, not the driver, who made the visual perfect. As leaders, we must constantly remember that although we're important to the success of our business unit, it's others who are far more indispensable and valued.
Leading others takes a significant amount of skill, time, and practice to be successful. Respecting others and keeping your ego in check doesn't mean that you shouldn't mandate a high level of accountability from your staff. Team members don't want to be led by someone who they consider weak or intimidating; rather, they'll respond best to someone who sets the standard of excellence. The higher your expectation of performance, the greater the chance your staff members will rise to the challenge and achieve success.
© 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.