Leadership Pride – Where Is It Placed?

Pride is a funny thing. We want pride to be evident in what we do. We want our pride to show in where we work and gather as a community. We want to be proud of the places we engage and participate in. Pride is a good thing.

My Way Pride

In leadership, it gets trickier. We want pride to show in our work and in the way we lead. However, pride can easily turn inward and become very self-centered and self-important. It becomes "my" pride. What I mean is this:

  • My way
  • My plans
  • My style
  • My, my, my....

It turns to inward pride, which translates into an outward impression of cockiness or big, big ego. Focus is lost. Even worse, principles are lost. Decisions and actions can dangerously get off path and lead to big failures in judgment and outcomes.

Although confidence is required in leadership, being overly proud of our abilities leads to downfalls and pitfalls. It is a misplaced pride that gets leaders off track.

Rightly Placed Pride

Instead, leadership pride needs to be placed in the right places. There are three key places where pride should be placed by leaders.

Team capabilities. In our organizations, seeing the pride of work and accomplishment by a team is very satisfying, as well as very productive. If our team’s capabilities are increasing, it means the right foundation and mentoring structure is in place. Teams taking on more responsibility, making more decisions, and doing more right things in the right way is a great (and necessary) trait to have.

Culture longevity. Organizational cultures can be viewed in many ways. One of the most positive aspects can be cultures that survive the test of time, meaning they evolve and adapt while keeping core principles intact. Trust and empowerment don’t change. How work is done and what work is pursued may change, however. Organizational cultures that live on after good leaders pass through is a great and worthy sense of pride.

Learning ability. Organizations and individuals that continue to learn and grow are essential signs of healthy pride. It is a pride instilled by what leaders value and also what talented team members value. A desire to always be a better team member or leader is a great value to instill. Having pride in seeing people learn and grow into new responsibilities is very rewarding. It is about growth. The right type of pride enables growth in thought, actions, and approaches.

The Pride Test

As a leader, where is your pride placed?

  • Does it reside mostly in what you do and how you do it?
  • Does it reside mostly in how your team members and organizations are developing, working together, and producing relevant results?

Take a mindful approach and think about:

  • How often are your thoughts centered on how wonderful your ways are and, if only people followed your way more often, everyone would be doing much better?
  • How often do you express gratitude to a team member for taking the initiative and taking risks in improving outcomes?
  • How much time do you spend coaching, mentoring, and facilitating?

If the answers to these questions are focused more on self rather than team, then your pride may be misplaced. It is a wake-up call to your character and what will stand the test of time in terms of your leadership.

When properly placed, pride is a good thing in leadership.

What role does (or should) pride play in your leadership approach?


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