Mark Cole: A Leader’s Most Dangerous Thought


Mark Cole: A Leader’s Most Dangerous Thought 1

In my role as the leader of a leadership organization, I spend a lot of time studying other leaders around the world—both past and present. In my studies, I typically look for two different kinds of patterns: patterns that lead to success and patterns that lead to failure.

Today, I want to share a pattern of thinking I’ve observed. It’s
a pattern every leader should avoid, and it begins with one thought:

“I deserve.”

I believe this to be—by far—a leader’s most dangerous
thought.

To some degree it’s natural to have entitlement feelings as
a leader. Leadership is demanding. It takes a personal toll and, if we’re not
careful, we can make it about us. It’s not a difficult position to rationalize.

But once a leader has developed an entitlement pattern of
thinking, the organization is in grave
danger.

The greatest problem with “I deserve” is how it changes our
perspective. We begin to see our contribution as more important than anyone
else’s. This creates a “one-way street” mind-set, which leads to a wrong
motivation for leadership.

Leadership is not
about getting what you want. Leadership is about serving the people around you
for the benefit of the team.

“I deserve” thinking threatens our ability to lead because
it takes us out of our community. It separates us from the real nature of
leadership: serving others.

Trying to make life all about you pushes happiness for
everyone else further out of reach. If a leader thinks, “it’s all about me,” then his or her team will think
it’s all about them.

The result? No hope for getting along, and certainly no hope
for achieving what’s best for the team.

So how do you counteract the “I deserve” mentality? My
answer is pretty simple—probably simpler than you would hope for.

Value others!

Do it everyday. Do it intentionally. And do it consistently.

John Maxwell teaches a simple process that has become a
daily practice for me and has revolutionized my mindset as a leader:

Everyday I…

  1. Value people
  2. Think of ways to add value to people
  3. Look for ways to add value to people
  4. Intentionally add value to people
  5. Encourage others to add value to people

Valuing others helps
minimize the entitlement mindset of “I deserve.”

It redirects your focus and energy onto your team rather
than yourself.

Remember: leadership
is not a position, but a role.
And it is about channeling all that you are
for the benefit of others. Take a minute to examine your own leadership. Do
you have any “I deserve” assumptions?  If
there are areas in your leadership where you struggle with entitlement, begin
counteracting this by developing the habit of valuing others.

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