Some of the biggest mistakes a person can make are those made with absolute enthusiasm is confidence. Blissfully they indulge in activities that they are going to regret significantly. In my experience, alcohol is involved, but the more toxic substance is ego. Nothing is more dangerous than a leader with a messianic vision and the self-esteem to match. These people lack self-doubt and emotional intelligence and are responsible for destroying millions of dollars in wealth and countless organizations. This week, I want to have a necessary discussion about humility.
The web is crawling with numerous research papers talking about the Dunning-Krugar effect and how we promote incompetent people into positions of authority. Unfortunately, I have witnessed this dysfunction firsthand, which undermines your confidence in the business community. The leader promoted on looks and charm becomes a high-priced disappointment as a rule rather than the exception. Treating confidence as a force multiplier often eclipses competence, empathy, and experience. The harsh truth is the best leaders need the above mixture of skills to be successful.
A leader who listens with emotional intelligence and empathy is superior to those who only exude self-confidence. In the face of challenges, these two tribes of leaders differ significantly. A charismatic leader will see an obstacle as something which must be trampled or bludgeoned into submission. This approach works in the short term but often creates more problems down the road. A leader with emotional intelligence sees an obstacle as a means to pivot and change directions. The ability to adapt and shift focus when necessary makes these leaders superior.
Edward Deming said survival in business is not mandatory. The world of commerce requires us to be adaptable to change. Thus, being flexible is a powerful business trait. Another reason the emotionally intelligent leader is superior to charismatic leaders is the ability to change. When confronted with a compromise or trade-off, a charismatic leader will become stuck, while emotionally intelligent leaders will focus on a pragmatic way to accomplish work.
The business world is a chaotic place. It feels like you are traveling in a run-a-way train, and no one can ensure it does not fly off the tracks. We have plenty of passengers on the train and people willing to shovel coal into the boilers, but a steady driver is hard to find. The person who asks, “who is driving this train?” is often conscripted to take charge and attempt to bring order to the chaos. It takes an extraordinary leader to take control of a run-a-way train. These reluctant leaders approach their jobs with humility and pragmatism because they know mistakes could cause the metaphorical locomotive to plunge into a bottomless cliff.
The ability to listen to others, exhibit emotional intelligence, and put themselves in the shoes of others is a necessary skill to be a successful leader in a complicated world. It is not the traditional form of leadership but one we need today.
Until next time.