He used to be a friendly guy that everyone liked to run into in the breakroom. Then he got promoted, and everyone avoids him if possible. She was funny and easygoing until she gained access to the company jet. Does this sound familiar?
Joann Lublin outlines the dangers of inflated egos in the workplace in a recent Wall Street Journal article. The bottom line is that according to Lublin, personal effectiveness can land you a promotion, but gaining power can cause a lot of problems.
Indeed, she recognizes “an affliction of arrogance that plagues many people picked for powerful posts, its symptoms include a tendency toward isolation, belief that you’re smarter than others, preference for loyalists, aversion to changing course even in the face of failure –and love of royal treatment.”
What is the solution to a shift to such characteristics that detract from innovation and success rather than encouraging personal effectiveness and creativity? One prominent CEO says that “he keeps his ego in check by working closely with people who enjoy teasing him,” but that is not a solution that will work for everyone. Do you hope to enjoy personal effectiveness and prestige while maintaining your likeable personality and professionalism in the workplace? Here’s how.
Lublin’s Top 5 Professionalism in the Workplace Tips for Power Players
1. “Surround yourself with highly capable lieutenants.”
Recognize that the ultimate success or failure of the company does not depend entirely on you. You may have power, but you are just one person. Create a team of smart, independent people who you can trust. Delegate wisely, and give your team credit where credit is due.
2. “Encourage dissent, discourage sycophants.”
Sometimes the only way to think outside the box and come up with great new ideas and strategies is to change course, to disagree with past precedent, to have people share ideas that are different from your own. If you are serious about being a strong leader, you will see that opposing viewpoints can be a strength rather than a weakness.
3. “Regularly admit and fix your mistakes.”
Nobody is perfect, not even you. The more you can own your missteps and learn from them, the less your ego will become over-inflated, and the more you will be able to maintain your personal effectiveness, humility, and innovation in the face of growing prestige.
4. “Treat every employee with respect.”
Just because you have the perks associated with a high position in your company doesn’t mean that you are better than anyone else. There are employees in other departments and at other levels who work longer hours than you, who care for their families as much as you do, who have new ideas just as innovative as yours. And in the end, they are all human. You’re not too busy and important to treat your employees right.
5. “Find an objective sounding board outside the office.”
It is important to have a fresh perspective, and sometimes the freshest perspective comes from someone who is not involved with the daily operation of your business. If you want to stay on top of your game, don’t isolate yourself from outside ideas and insight.