Leadership is one of the prime drivers in building a company culture.
Leaders come in various degrees across a wide spectrum especially in the ego department. It’s a tall order to create any kind of viable leadership-driven culture where egos are allowed to run wild and unchecked. All leaders have blind spots, some are huge, and others have been reduced due to increased self-awareness and self-regulation skill development. At any rate, blind spots pose high potential areas of vulnerability.
All leaders are vulnerable to risk due to their own sense of pride and ego. Being human beings mean we all desire and like affirmation from others. That ranges from a pat on the back to having your ego stroked heavily. That vulnerability can open you up to a very power-packed form of manipulation, the most common form being packaged in flattery. The danger zone of flattery is that it becomes most powerful when it is presented to those who hunger for it. Leaders who place their need for adoration above the needs of their people are tempting targets for those who would abuse an invested trust.
The power that comes with a leader’s ability to positively influence others is sometimes trumped by the power given away. There’s an old saying “flattery will get you everywhere” and it’s true proven by those who not only believe it but also consistently act on it. Flattery has the power to influence, corrupt, deceive and undermine. We would also submit that flattery is little more than a covert form of aggression.
There is a difference between flattery and praise. Praise is an expression of sincere appreciation while flattery is more along the lines of excessive and insincere. The naive, needful and egocentric leader views flattery through their lenses as sincere praise. Experienced leaders with healthy self-esteem process flattery as disingenuous and agenda-driven.
Things You Can Do:
1. Feedback Feedback Feedback
Good feedback helps cut down blind spots and helps convert potential into results, so the more leaders can engage in honest, improvement-oriented feedback, the more the leader and therefore the organization can improve. This can be done through simple, easy sit-down meetings with your staff, your coach or any other trusted, truthful person you have in your circle.
2. 360 Leadership Surveys
Having the courage and the desire to get better drives you to do 360s. This survey is completed by your superiors (direct manager, board, etc), your direct reports who report to you and by your peers with whom you work. This type of feedback instrument gives you more of a variety of both qualitative and quantitative data you can use to cut down your blind spots and see “around your environment” with more clarity.
3. Organizational Climate Surveys
While less direct focus on you than a 360, the climate survey can provide you with both quantitative and qualitative feedback data on the kind of work environment you are creating. If you have culture benchmarks in place on the kind of culture you are trying to create, you can have a gap analysis on the current state of the climate, then do work and set goals to narrow the gaps to help facilitate the more desired cultural environment.
4. Practice Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation
Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others. In practice, it is your ability to recognize when you are red, clear or somewhere in-between.
Improving Self-Awareness can be accomplished through journaling, identifying areas in which are brought to your attention that surprise you, paying attention to your behaviors and logging them to try to identify patterns and then document the thoughts and feelings that accompany those behaviors.
Self-Regulation is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and the propensity to suspend judgement and think before acting. In practice, it is your ability to influence your emotional clarity from red to clear when the situation requires.
Improving your Self-Regulation can be improved by catching the behaviors early on with signals and then doing things to minimize or avert those behaviors. Find ways and techniques that bring calm and easy thoughts and feelings. This may be accomplished through external stimulus such as music or scenes you enjoy.
These are but a few suggestions on how to identify and cut down on your blind spots and improve your contribution to your organizational climate.
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