Leadership in the Face of Terror

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I’m not here to stand on my soapbox about the mass shooting in Christchurch. The horrific nature of what these individuals did, and the weariness of repeating the cycle of post-shooting events, is enough to put you into a deep depression about the way the world is going.

However, if there has been one bright spot in these incredibly dark days, it has been the confident and powerful response of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Already renowned for being the second world leader to give birth while in office, Ardern’s response to the shooting has been hope-inspiring, and a model for leaders of all kinds to follow during times of crisis.

While what we are talking about here is a global crisis of the worst degree, it’s important to remember that these aspects of leadership response to crisis apply to leaders of all kinds, in all types of organizations.

Composure: As one of the world’s most peaceful countries, New Zealand is often seen as a beacon for safety in an increasingly dangerous and divided world. It’s easy to think that Prime Minister Ardern would have never imagined that her term would include being at the centre of such internationally relevant events. This accentuates the immense composure that she has shown throughout the aftermath, portraying class and strength at every public moment.

While many people see the public outbursts of sports coaches, or the power-through-retaliation of other world leaders under crisis, Ardern’s composure has shown how great leadership can display strength without inflaming a situation.

Compassion: Whatever you want to classify these attacks as, hatred for difference must be mentioned. An alternate timeline, with a less graceful response from Ardern, could have easily let to further alienation of New Zealand’s Muslim community. Instead, she showed compassion towards the Islamic faith, showing up in a hijab to the funerals and prayer services that followed.

That one simple gesture became an inspiration to many women in New Zealand, who followed suit and wore hijabs as a sign of everyone, regardless of faith, coming together in support for the Muslim community.

Immediacy: Ardern’s response was also categorized by its stunning immediacy, and the efficiency with which she moved to prevent any future mass shootings. Just days after the attack, she moved to ban semi-automatics and assault rifles, with great conviction and assertiveness.

This showed forethought in a time when many gun-control opponents often try to redirect the conversation from guns to mental health, and a respect for what is really the ultimate purpose of a leader: keeping the people safe.

Most business leaders will never have to respond to a crisis that involves national security, firearms legislation, and global media coverage. However, we can all take a page out of Jacinda Ardern’s book when it comes to her demeanour during the crisis, and the composure, compassion, and immediacy with which she handled it.

The next time you find yourself in charge of the response to a workplace crisis, reflect on Jacinda Ardern’s response, and the importance of composure, compassion and immediacy.


'Under the Radar' Management Behaviours that Could Lead to Trouble

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The past three years in media coverage of leadership has been dominated by one trend in particular: abuses of power, particularly by men, leading to harassment charges, particularly of a sexual nature.

Women and men alike are feeling more empowered than ever to take on their bosses despite coming from a position of weakness, and this has many in leadership positions combing through their past behaviours, for everything from one-off inappropriate comments to institutionalized sexual abuse.   

While the #MeToo movement has produced a ton of positive momentum for reducing misuses of power  in the workplace, we need to be hyper-aware of thinking that the problem is solved forever.

In 2008, many people cited the election of Barack Obama as the end of racism in America. Since November 2016, we've been hit by waves of examples that racism is still alive and well.

To ensure that something similar doesn't happen with leadership harassment and abuses of power, here are several 'under the radar' management behaviours that are best avoided, as they could lead to legal trouble or professional shame.

1. Inappropriate Social Media Behaviour

It seems like everyday, some new celebrity, politician, or businessperson is being publicly shamed over bad behaviour on social media. Marriages are ending as quickly as board seats or CEO positions are disappearing, all because of poor choices on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

While many businesses use these platforms in their operations, it's vital that you keep personal and professional separate, and this especially applies to messaging staff members through these platforms. You've got their work email, so just use that, because if it's something that you don't feel comfortable sending through company channels, you probably shouldn't be sending it at all.

2. Commenting on Your Staff's Fashion Choices

“'I can't even compliment anyone anymore,'” is a common complaint heard from those, especially men, in positions of power, in the wake of #MeToo. Commenting on a worker's clothing is often an easy Trojan Horse into commenting on their overall attractiveness. While you may intend something to be a good faith, casual remark on a new outfit, these are the kind of miscommunications that are best avoided in this tense workplace climate.

3. Implicit Biases in the Workplace

Implicit biases are assumptions that are brains make at a subconscious level, and while they can be quite helpful for making quick decisions, they can also facilitate unintentional discrimination in the workplace, and can lead to legal issues despite good intentions.

Whether it's men's opinions being deemed more trustworthy than women's, or resumes with European names being rated more highly than ones with African names, there are countless studies to show that implicit biases exist in all of us, without our knowledge.

It’s important for leaders to stay informed about articles and studies like these, and to share them with colleagues. What’s even more crucial? Taking actions to adjust employee behaviour (including your own) as soon as these ‘under the radar’ behaviours are spotted or brought up.

Stop relying on employee handbooks and initial orientation to discuss management behaviours. Open discussions about the importance of watching and catching inappropriate employee conduct is a helpful way to create a more accepting, less discriminatory workplace where everyone feels safe.

Living In The Grey #3: The Damage of Social Media

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As a quick recap since it’s been a minute, what I mean by ‘living in the grey’ is to accept the nuances and complexities of the world, without reacting with hostility anytime something impinges on your worldview. In this series, we are particularly talking about the consequences of our general failure to live in the grey, on our ability to communicate with one another.  

When discussing the disruptive, aggressive, unproductive place that we’ve gotten to in communication as a society, there’s really no discussion without diving into the topic of social media. As a completely unprecedented way of bringing people together, social media, with its mantra of connecting the world, has achieved this goal, but not with the intended results.

Sure, there have been major successes, such as 2011’s Arab Spring movement, but these positives are overshadowed several fold by things like Russian bot scandals, Facebook’s role in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of Myanmar, and the often horrific tone and content of the dreaded comments section. Social media is as black/white of a space as we have in our society, so diagnosing why this is, through looking at three of the primary issues with social media, can teach us a lot about how we’ve gotten to this place.

Issue #1: A Lack of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is as key of a skill as we have for communication in a society as complex as ours, yet it is lacking on large scales on social media. We need to understand diverse viewpoints and deep topics, which is why opinions distributed to the masses have been previously left up to experts, who would think through a situation before responding.

The immediacy of social media, and the need to always be first and fast with comments, means that critical thinking is quickly swept aside by our emotional reactions. People are putting their feet in their mouths at an unbelievable rate, because of a lack of critical thinking, and this is only exacerbating our communication problems.

Issue #2: A Lack of Personal Responsibility

One of the other main issues with communication on social media is how easily it allows people to shirk responsibility for the things that they say to others. Whether through anonymous profiles, or by a sheer refusal to take account for the humanity of the other people involved, many social media users feel free to unleash on others in ways they never would in person, because they don’t expect the consequences that come with this behaviour.

This lack of personal responsibility also manifests in the online issue of sharing articles based on headlines. Many media companies and publishers use blatantly outrageous headlines to increase the sharing of their articles, and this leads to people forming opinions that aren’t aligned with facts, or even worse, are aligned with outright lies or conspiracies. This proliferation of misinformation has made people suspicious, incredulous, and hateful towards those who disagree with them.

Issue #3: A Lack of Appreciation for the Power of Social Media

This final issue brings together the prior two, and compounds them through the massive reach of social media platforms, and the ability for just about anyone to garner an audience, regardless of their credibility. Gone are the days when a comment could be dismissed as ‘only a Facebook post,’ or ‘just a tweet,’ because we’ve seen the devastation that these communications can bring. People’s lives are being altered and ruined by social media everyday, and at the heart of this is the black/white, us/them, left/right communication that this series hopes to diagnose and cure.

Social media has gone from a Utopian tool aimed at bringing the world together, to an echo chamber generator, filled with hate, misinformation, and emotional reactions. Without critical thinking, personal responsibility, and an appreciation of the power of social media, these trends will only get worse, and become more damaging.

On a personal level, implementing these solutions, and discussing them with those in your social sphere, can go a long way to fixing the bad habits we’ve developed online, and help us all ‘live in the grey.’ While this won’t always be easy, making a concerted effort to get a little better each day will lead to extensive changes in the long term!

For the next piece in this series, we’ll take a look at how generational differences have played a role in dividing us through communication, especially in the workplace.

Stop Making Resolutions, Start Finding Solutions

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New Year’s Resolutions are one of the most maddening traditions that we take part in as a culture. Each year, millions of people around the world fail in their attempts to change something about themselves or their life, and this only compounds the negative feelings that were behind the resolution to begin with. There have been countless think pieces on the reasons why our resolutions continually fail, or most specifically, why we fail to reach them. These reasons include:

  • Our inability to set reasonable goals: Someone looking to lose weight might resolve to completely cut out junk food and go to the gym six days a week, when what they would be better off aiming to do is cut their junk food intake down, mix in some salads, and try to get to the gym three times a week.

  • The presence of external factors in our resolutions: While your resolution may be to advance your career by getting a promotion, this is not in your control. In this situation, your boss holds too much power over whether or not you achieve your goal, and thus your resolution, which is supposed to empower you, has been stripped from your hands.   

  • Emphasizing what we ‘should’ do, rather than what we ‘want’ to do: A major factor in failed resolutions is that we often push ourselves into things that we don’t want to do. Our idea of a better life involves things that we believe ‘should’ be done, without accounting for personal preferences. Instead of dreading your new, daily, 5 a.m. jogging alarm, go for a run when you feel like it, and create more positive associations with the experience.

Solutions Over Resolutions

When you look at all of these factors, plus the statistics behind the success of resolutions (~80% of resolutions are broken by early February), we clearly need to find a better way to go about personal growth. Our current situation leaves people even more disgruntled than they began, as not are are they still not exercising, still smoking, or stuck in their dead end job, but now they have evidence of their failure to change what they wanted to change.

As a professionally trained ‘Solutions-Focused’ Coach, my recommendation for the future is for people to find solutions, rather than making resolutions.

The main reason we make resolutions is because we are unhappy with, dislike, or want to improve something about ourselves, or our current state. This leads us to resolve to do something different in order to attain a future desired state.

Let’s use losing weight as an example, because 55% of resolutions involve people wanting to get healthier/lose weight/exercise more. The main problem with resolutions is that they are goal-based, meaning that we externally motivated to achieve them. External motivation is the desire to reach some goal because of what you get at the end, versus internal motivation, which drives us to do things based on our inner desires.

In this way, our resolutions will be a fight everyday, because we define success as reaching a goal that is often unreasonable. A solution to this, which is my preferred method for achieving goals, involves reshaping our attitudes towards the processes behind our goals. If you find a type of exercise that you enjoy, and learn to incorporate it into your routine, getting the recommended amount of exercise becomes much easier, and much less of a chore.

By applying this type of solutions-oriented, process-driven thinking to your life, you can say goodbye to your least favourite annual tradition: giving up on your resolution on February 1st.


Living in the Grey: How Can We Differentiate Between Black/White and Grey Communication?

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As we saw in the first installment of this series, The Grey is an area of uncertainty but it’s also an area that requires subtlety, compassion, and understanding. In part two, I’d like to explore how a lack of these qualities has pushed us to our current state of communication: divided, hostile, and lacking openness.  

It doesn’t take much effort to find examples of divided or ‘black and white’ communication going on these days. There are obvious places where the back and forth has always been testy, such as between political parties or sports team fan bases, but even these arenas are becoming increasingly polarized, with hostility and disrespect reaching an all-time high.

Let’s take a look at an example of this kind of communication, in order to lock down this abstract notion of ‘black and white.’

John: Who do you want to win the game tonight?

Jenny: I’m a Bears fan, and I think that they will beat the Rams.

John: Bears better than the Rams? Are you an idiot? The Rams will kill them.

Jenny: Only a Rams fan would be dumb enough to think that.

John: Now I know why your husband drinks so much. To drown out your stupid opinions.

Jenny: At least I’m still married. Unlike you.

Now this snippet of conversation may seem absurd, but it outlines many of the characteristics of a ‘black and white’ conversation.

  • A conversation about a benign topic is blown out of proportion

  • Associating with a specific group instantly demonizes those from other groups

  • Improper attacks on someone’s character

  • Line-crossing comments

What was supposed to be a simple sports conversation between acquaintances became a heated argument involving personal attacks. Both John and Jenny can’t unravel their identities as fans of their teams from the bigger picture, and this disagreement ensures that they won’t be able to see eye to eye on other issues, because of this one differing opinion.

Let’s look at another conversation, involving more complex subject matter, as an example of a ‘grey’ conversation.

John: Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Jenny: Pro-choice. I don’t think that the government should be allowed to tell women what they can or can’t do with their bodies.

John: I’m Pro-life. While I agree that a woman’s body should be her domain, I think that life begins at conception, and thus purposely terminating any pregnancy is murder.  

Jenny: I understand. Determining the beginning of life is difficult and complicated, so I can see why you don’t support abortion. But thank you for respecting my position.  

John: Are we still on to go hiking this weekend.

Jenny: Of course!

Here, we see that a disagreement on a core philosophical topic doesn’t have to ruin your weekend plans or friendship with someone. Both John and Jenny understand and respect the other’s position on a difficult topic, and admit to some ignorance of all the facts on their own parts. They have successfully navigated a tricky conversation, while remaining cordial with one another. No name-calling, no personal attacks.

Let’s take a quick moment to recall some of the criteria for ‘Living In The Grey:’

  1. It's not about eliminating the black/white distinction, but about recognizing that not everyone sees the world through the black/white lens, at least not on all topics.

  2. We don't always have to take a committed stance on everything for the rest of our life. We don’t need to be prisoners of our beliefs.

  3. We must ask more questions and explore The Grey.

  4. The truth might have many colours so stop asking people to be in one camp or another.

The difference between these two conversations is striking, particularly when you consider the subjects of each. A sports conversation led to a huge blow-up, while an abortion conversation was civil and informed. However, there seem to be many more examples of the sports conversation, with just the topic changed, happening in and around our society.

Part 3 of this series will be out next month, and it touches on one of the reasons that we see this: social media and online echo chambers. We will look into how the selective bias and relative anonymity of our online lives has turned the tone of conversation to black and white, and made living in the grey more difficult.

Living In the Grey: A Six-Part Exploration of Living in a Polarized World

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Part 1: What Is ‘The Grey?’

There is a plague on our culture, and in our workplaces. You have undoubtedly noticed it, because it’s present almost anywhere you turn, in the office, or online. It has slowly been creeping into every aspect of the modern world, invading every crevice. What is this damaging force? It has many names: division, polarity, antagony, hate, conflict, hostility, inhumanity. And if we don’t recognize it, it will continue to tear us apart, past the point of no return.  

As the world and business have gotten more complex, more technologically-rooted, and more intricately connected, many people have become more and more set in their ways, with a refusal to consider the other side of an argument. There is a tendency to revert to primitive ways of ‘black and white’ thinking, us against them, right versus wrong, in areas that are no longer so cut and dry.

The social trauma and crisis that so many people are experiencing at work and at home is the result of applying this kind of either/or thinking to discussions that are much more subtle; they want black or white, when what really exists is grey.

‘The Grey’ will be the primary subject of this series, specifically, the importance of learning to ‘live in The Grey.’ Living in The Grey means many things, which is appropriate, because it is our best, and most necessary, technique for combating the personal, social, political, and technological forces driving us apart.

The most important thing to recognize about living in The Grey is that there is no rule book or instruction manual for you to follow in every situation, or no leader who can guide you perfectly through the modern world. It is a process that takes time, wisdom, experience, and most of all, compassion and understanding.

Living in The Grey is a return to communal principles, but applied to a globalized world and marketplace. It involves dealing with uncertainty, entertaining opposing viewpoints, and handling disagreement with civility rather than cruelty. The brain must sometimes take a back seat to the heart, and the ego needs to be tamed wherever possible, for an organization and its people to exist in this productive space.

By following principles like this, we can wrestle back some control over the dividing forces that we feel are out of our hands. We can use social media networks to build connections as they were intended, not spread hate and misinformation as they are doing. We can go to workplaces that function as supportive forces for everyone’s career, not just those in charge. We can use politics as a way to build up better communities and countries, rather than playgrounds for racism, xenophobia, and fear. Most importantly, we can establish closer, more meaningful human relationships, by recognizing that differences should be celebrated and embraced, not run from in terror.

One of the first steps towards living in The Grey is for us to become better communicators. There needs to be a return to thoughtful, earnest discussion, which values insight over insult, and respects the value of ideas, not the prestige of the speaker, especially in the workplace. In our next piece, we will outline how we got to this divided place in communication, and how we can fix our communication channels to enable healthy, productive conversations.   


A simple way to radically improve your performance

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While mindfulness isn’t the first association we make with high performance, entrepreneurship and innovation, you’d be surprised at how many successful leaders practice and prioritize it. Studies have found that mindfulness can help thicken grey matter in the brain and reduce cortisol levels, improving our ability to handle information. For anyone working hard and suffering from an intense daily routine, mindfulness is a great way to keep things together and prevent burnout, ensuring that you remain wired for success.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a positive mind-altering approach to life, which, in practice, helps to encourage insight, tranquility, and focus. It is the essential human ability to be aware of the present moment, of what we are doing, feeling, and thinking, without getting overwhelmed or disturbed by external influences. Those who meditate as part of their mindfulness practice tend to have greater control over stress and anxiety, while also improving their energy levels and mental clarity.

The most common mindfulness practice is regular meditation. Meditation is a very personal matter, and the most important aspect of your practice is being consistent. For starters, meditate in the morning or evening. Then you can gradually move onto meditating before big meetings and challenging business decisions. This will help centre you and allow you to perform at your best.

How Can Mindfulness Improve Performance?

The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful. In the context of entrepreneurship, some of the key benefits of this positive practice include the following.

  1. Improved Focus

When you’ve got a lot of things on your plate and are unable to focus entirely, it is more difficult to wrangle your great ideas, and act on them. Mindfulness helps you gain a higher level of focus, and keep your thoughts more cohesive and sensible. By doing so, you can turn them into appropriate solutions. As you become more concerned with mindfulness, incoming emails, buzzes, vibrations, and other distractions will be less able to divert or jeopardize your trains of thought.

2. Deeper Creativity

Being a high-performing leader isn’t only about making smart decisions. It also involves understanding the creative process behind those decisions. When you unlock your creative potential and tap into your deeper creative self, you’ll experience a world filled with possibilities, solutions, and options you’d never considered.

3. Embrace Failure

No one likes losing, especially if they're mentally prepared to succeed. However, failures happen, and they occur often. The difference between real winners and losers is that winners understand that failure is a part of the process to improvement. Successful people and entrepreneurs alike turn the fear of failure (and the unknown) into motivators.

Failure doesn’t define them; it informs them.

Mindfulness helps train your mind to manage your emotions more productively, finding the positivity in failure. Such a mindset enables you to gain confidence and exhibit your perseverance – two main traits of every successful business person.

4. Communicate More Effectively Under Stress

Effective communication is one of the crucial traits of successful entrepreneurship, especially in stressful situations. Most professional success and personal growth comes with improved communication skills, and mindfulness can play a big role in this. By maintaining a mindfulness practice, you’ll learn to communicate effectively and keep yourself shielded from those predatory, mental threats that are actively making you stressed and anxious. When you're in the middle of an investor meeting or client negotiation that isn't going your way, mindfulness will help you stay calm and focused on solution finding.

Your emotions are bound to get the best of you...unless you are armed with tools to control them. Mindfulness is one of those 'in-the-moment' tools that is designed to help you calm down those nerves so you don't say something you later regret.

Although mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword in the last few years, that doesn’t negate its benefits to virtually all aspects of our lives, from feelings of inner peace and satisfaction, to growing business relationships, and everything in between.

I’ve been practicing meditation and other forms of mindfulness for the past four years and it’s been a game changer in my life, and my business. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

How to Spot an Uncoachable Employee

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The business world is challenging enough as it is, but what happens when your business depends on employees who might not be that open for cooperation? If you don’t react in time to stop a disaster, you are potentially looking at your business suffering a significant loss, both financially, and concerning your company morale.

If you’re looking to gather the best possible team around you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for when coaching your new employees, to help you avoid getting stuck with an uncoachable group.

They Can’t Take (Negative) Feedback

One of the first clues you are stuck with an employee who’ll give you headaches is that they get defensive in feedback situations. Usually, they’ll become overly emotional, tune out, and try to “explain” and “justify” their poor performance by finding excuses irrelevant to work (e.g., their cat got sick, and they’ve been so stressed lately.)

They Find Blame Elsewhere

Finding blame in everyone and everything outside yourself is usually indicative of a poor performer. They often aren’t interested in doing much for their personal growth, whether individually or as part of your team. They’ll won’t take accountability for their mistakes and, when criticized, they’ll take it as a personal offense, rather than an opportunity for improvement.

They Exploit Personal Relationships

Everyone has been in this situation. A friend’s daughter needed the job, so you were kind enough to let her join your team. After all, you’ve known the kid her whole life, so how could she not be right for the job, right? Ah, the naivete.

If the person you gave this opportunity to keeps ditching responsibilities and shunning the advice you give them, their work should speak louder than existing relationships. Furthermore, if you hear them acting superior with their colleagues because they know you, you’ll have a problem in the long run. If you want to hire someone you know, have a serious talk with them before they start working, and explain they’ll be treated just like any other employee.

They Are Unwilling to Be Vulnerable

To truly progress at work (and in life!) you need to be humble and vulnerable. This requires an openness to admitting your mistakes, asking for help, experiencing discomfort, and having difficult conversations. These are the ingredients that make up your professional and personal relationships. If your employees are too proud to communicate and show their true feelings, they most likely don’t have the potential for growth, and won’t be able to take your coaching seriously.

They Have a Hard Time Changing Their Perspective

As human beings, we are mostly driven by our unconscious mechanisms and “pre-programmed” beliefs. Employees who are open to “re-programming,” i.e., learning new ways of looking at a situation, or being wired for success, are real keepers! In opening up to new perspectives, knowledge, and information, they are expanding their overall understanding of things at work and outside of it, and learning to detect behaviors and beliefs that could potentially sabotage them. Employees who are stubborn in their views are likely the same employees that’ll give you a headache in the long run.

They Think They Are Better Than They Are

The job market is beaming with applications of people looking for jobs of all kinds. This means that plenty of “overqualified” employees take a job that pays rent, while hating every single moment of it. Such an attitude will lead to them feeling superior,not only to other employees, but their leaders as well. Letting these attitudes linger can cause uncomfortable situations and an unproductive work environment.

No matter how intelligent, educated, and smart your employee is, they also need to be adaptable to coaching. And for the C-suite leaders and managers reading this - that includes you. It’s important for companies to think twice before hiring a person who believes they are better than the job they are doing.

Building a team that functions like a well-oiled machine can be tough but if you have uncoachable, ego-driven and stubborn people on the team, you’re going to experience constant friction. When you spot the above signs in employees, you need to take a step back and do an honest assessment of the negative impact that this individual can have on the team, and the company’s growth. After all, your team is the foundation of your business, and one bad apple might just ruin the bunch.


3 Signs that Ego is Hurting Your Ability to Lead

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When was the last time your ego took over? Maybe before the conversation with an employee who did something wrong. Was it when you were arguing which political party truly deserves to be in power, and why? How about that conversation that “mysteriously” led to you talking (ahem...bragging) about all the rich and successful people you know?

At some point in time – we’ve all been there or at least we’ve known someone who has.

The ego is the part of our subconsciousness that craves control. It makes us feel safe, important and valued - something every human being needs right from the time they’re born.

The issue is when the egotistic voice starts to over emphasize our individual importance in the world.

If your inner voice is constantly telling you that you are better and more valuable than the people around you, that’s your ego creeping in.

We sometimes think the ego helps our self-identify but it might just be doing more damage. More importantly - it can hurt personal and professional relationships.

The Damage In A Leadership Role

Leaders need to have a sense of confidence that they know what they’re doing but when consumed with an overwhelming sense of self-worth, importance, and pride, they fail to inspire. Their teams can become disengaged and disconnected, and in extreme situations  - an ego-driven leader creates a toxic environment where staff try to sabotage that leader’s growth out of sheer frustration.

Egotistical leaders fail see the bigger picture and for a business that’s looking to thrive long term, a leader like this can be devastating.

If left unchecked, the ego can make the most intelligent individual seem like a complete jack-@#$. And no one likes to work for, or with one, regardless of how intellectually capable they are. No one.

What Are The Warning Signs That Our Ego Is Calling The Shots?

Here are just a few things to watch out for:

The need to be right

People who have an obsessive need to always be right are driven by ego, which will inevitably endanger both their personal and business relationships.

Unfortunately, most people are unaware of their “I’m right” syndrome. If you hear your friends, colleagues, employees, or supervisors call you on it, don’t get defensive. Instead, think about what they’re saying, and why they’re saying it.

Fixing this requires you to drop narrow-minded thinking patterns where things are either “right or wrong,” and “good or bad.”

Take a step back and consider all the facts. The moment you open your mind to other people’s opinions, suggestions, and solutions, you’ll see beyond your ego-induced judgment and criticism, to embrace a multitude of potential opportunities.

It will not only make you a great leader, but a better person, as well.  

Enjoying the limelight...a little too much

Examine this scenario between a leader, let’s call him Bob, and one of his team members, who we will call Kate. Kate had only been in the industry for a few years, and was looking for a leader and mentor. She hoped to learn from Bob and his impressive success in sales.

However, instead of offering her valuable support, Bob mostly bragged about the praise he received when starting out as a “young-gun” in Kate’s role. He was a serial name dropper, always reminding his team of his accomplishments and accolades.

On one project, Kate stayed late, working countless hours. In spite of this, she received little appreciation, only getting feedback on her mistakes. Regardless, her work and effort shown through on the project. When the CEO asked to meet with key members of the project, Bob told her and the others they “didn’t need to be there,” even picking a time when the team wasn’t available.

After the meeting, Bob continued his gloating, this time about the praise he received from the CEO. A few days later, the CEO spotted Kate leaving Bob’s office and thanked her. Before she could speak, Bob cut in: “I make sure my people are trained well. Kate has a great future under my wing.”

Being a ‘Bob’ will only lead to resentment and alienation from your team over time. Try focusing on boosting them up, instead of stepping on them to gain a brief moment of glory.

Stress, Tensions and Discomfort Feel Overwhelming

Ego can lead people to a place where individuals are planning a project to the last detail and then snapping if things don’t go as they “should.”

Every leader must understand that life is unpredictable and that you can’t control everything, no matter the level of planning. The stress and emotional discomfort inherently will result in intense vibes, causing entire teams to start feeling tense, leading to their distress and loss of productivity.

Try to focus on courage instead of fear, and practice letting go, possibly through meditation.

The ego won’t ever go away, as it is one of the layers of our being and psyche, but it can be tamed by noticing when it’s calling the shots. It’s possible to evolve, becoming more aware of the ego, and therefore more capable of shutting it down if it won’t serve us.

A little ego doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. The ego prevents us from being pushed around, two-timed, or allowing others to use our kind heartedness for their benefit. As long as you know how to channel your ego, it won’t hurt your perception and decision making. Instead, you’ll be the type of emotionally intelligent leader everyone wants around.


Nike Just Schooled Us All!

Photo by Spencer Dahl on Unsplash

Photo by Spencer Dahl on Unsplash

I have a new appreciation for @Nike. With their recent announcement, I can see that they clearly understand something I often talk about: the importance of building a tribe rather than a customer base.

A tribe consists of people with shared core values, driven by a collective purpose, rather than just those looking for quality or a bargain.

By demonstrating their core values in such a strong statement, Nike has shown that a) they're not afraid to stand for what they believe is right, and b) that they aren't concerned about offending people.

Their stance is particularly relevant to Millennials who, as buyers and employees, are extremely concerned with a company's core values.

By giving this honest, authentic look into the soul of the company, Nike understood that, while they may piss off a few people, those who agree with them are going to gain a much greater appreciation of the brand.

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Taking a stance has shown that Nike is ready to be an active part in shaping social and political issues that brands have so often stayed away from, and it shows a very sophisticated understanding of what modern consumers are looking for from their brands.

Businesses need to start paying more attention to their purpose. Your WHY matters, and it's precisely what the young, cause-driven customer is attracted to.

Too many companies stand for nothing or everything. That yields mediocrity. Millennials want to know you're willing to stand for something powerful; something beyond profits. When a business makes the bold statement that Nike just made, they gain more of their ideal customers.

So, ask yourself - are you making bold enough statements that resonate with your core values? Do you even have a set of core values that inspires and motivates the people who work for you and buy from you?

Maybe it's time to burn the old mission and vision and start building something that matters.

As a quick note to all of those people burning their shoes, and cutting the emblems off of their clothing:

If this is your reaction to Nike's stance, keep your lighters and scissors close because you're likely going to have a lot more things to burn and cut up.

Nike won’t be the last brand to take a stance on an issue that matters, especially because of all of the support they have received after this move. Besides, they have your money already, so the only thing you're hurting with these actions are your closets.