When a top performer, who is recognized for her potential, track record of results, and a growing skill set, is given her first formal leadership position, it’s not uncommon for her ego get the best of her. She starts to think that she needs to do it all. She needs to have all of the answers. She needs to carry the team on her shoulders.
To a certain extent, this mindset makes sense. After all, it’s likely what got her the leadership position in the first place. But, it is not what is needed going forward.
With the new leadership role, must come a new mindset. A mindset focused not on me, but we. A mindset that says success comes from the collective achievements of the team, not the heroics of the leader.
Former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, puts it well. “The day you become a leader, it’s stops being about you. It’s starts being about them.”
This check your ego mindset starts with humility.
Todd Davis, the author of Get Better, has this to say about humility.
“Humility helps me stop worrying about myself and start thinking about others. It gives me courage to be honest with a co-worker in a respectful way. It gives me the wisdom to accurately assess my strengths and weaknesses. Humility reminds me to be patient with myself and others—and to know we are all in the process of getting better.”
What young leader wouldn’t benefit from thinking more about others, being honest and respectful, assessing her own strengths and weaknesses, and practicing patience with herself and others?
What about your new leaders?
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about the new leader(s) you are developing:
- Is the new leader’s language full of I statements? “I did this…” “I did that…” Or, has the leader shifted to a we mindset?
- Does the new leader believe that her perspective is the one that matters and that she has all of the answers? Or, has does she realize that she succeeds when she listens to the insights of her team?
- Is the new leader’s desire to impress others overshadowing her ability to lead and learn?
Take it from me…
Twenty-plus years ago, I was an army lieutenant serving as a platoon leader of a 39-person airborne infantry platoon. As a new leader, there were times when I, like many new leaders, struggled with a lack of humility. Thinking that I was the key to the platoon’s success, I failed to check my ego at times and missed some opportunities to be the best version of myself as a leader.
I paid a price for this mindset, you don’t have to do the same.