I, me, myself…

A very nice advice I once got from a captain from my sailing days was – ‘As a leader, before you make a decision always try and wear the other person’s shoes’. He also said, when in doubt ‘Ask’ and ‘get advice and inputs because you may not know it all’.

There is so much of talk in the professional world on collaboration, working as a team and the like. However, the ‘What’s in it for me’ seems to have taken a new meaning. We say we live in an age of instant gratification and that gratification is instant and totally personalized with little or no consideration of others. Some might argue that this is the only way to survive the competition, but may be not…

We seem to be connected technology wise, but the human connection may be actually reducing – we decide based on personal convenience, rather than finding a relevant solution…we work with our own biases and perceptions without acknowledging someone else’ presence and needs.

I do think to drive collaboration, leaders have to understand and acknowledge how others feel. A true ‘I care’ approach is essential – removing fears, creating a sense of security and avoiding unwanted internal conflicts. However, ironically, none of this can happen if a leader operates from a position of insecurity and self-interest.

They say you can either learn from others mistakes or make them yourselves. Somehow, a lot of us seem to be shying away from asking or getting inputs, and instead more willing to reinvent the wheel. We seem to be operating in a world of self-deception (A great read on this topic is Leadership and self-deception by Arbinger Institute). This not only impacts our own ability to perform, but also the performance of our teams.

Good leaders understand their own challenges and reach out, ask and work towards overcoming them. They push their teams to improve and do better, they avoid biases at work, keep people informed and in the loop, thereby creating an environment that is inclusive and not just centric to the leader’s point of view.

While it is important to keep the ‘What’s in it for me’ in mind…The shift in mindset needs to be from not just wearing one’s own shoes but also trying to see ‘if the other person’s shoe is pinching’…