Every one of us is wired so that we are at our best and strongest when we are thinking and acting beyond self-interest – when we look beyond ourselves to focus on the well-being of others. And we’re at our worst and weakest when we focus exclusively on our own well-being. I’m talking about a way to tap into your natural strengths, and lead every member of your team to tap into their natural strengths.
But if what I’m saying about our natural wiring really is true, then why doesn’t everyone act that way all the time? Because fear can push us in the opposite direction. One of the reasons I like the wiring analogy is that our wiring comes with an on-off switch. Fear can cause us to switch off our natural wiring. We still have the wiring, but we’re not using it.
Confident leaders – inspiring leaders – the kind of leaders that people connect with and want to follow – these are the leaders who project that they are not driven by self-interest. The key word here is “project.” They don’t hide their generous heart, but they also don’t brag about it. They project it in the way they act and the way they treat the people they lead.
They project their belief that they don’t need to worry about taking care of themselves. It’s more like, “If I take care of my people, I’ll be taken care of.” They set the example by their leadership, and they express their appreciation when a team member honors this high standard.
Your impact becomes even greater when the people you lead see you making a sacrifice for their well-being. When they see you stepping out of your comfort zone and going beyond what you’ve committed to do in order to make them more successful – it can affect them profoundly.
When they see that you are more concerned with their success than with your own – when they see you sincerely believe that if you put their success first, your own success will take care of itself – that sets the standard for a team culture of looking after each other – a culture of acting beyond self-interest.
You want your people to understand that their willingness to see the needs of others as equal to their own is an important factor in their reputation. It’s an important part of belonging to your organization or your team. When they see that you are not driven by self-interest, and that you are even willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team, they understand that this is expected of them too. It’s also important to express your admiration and appreciation whenever an employee does something to help someone else, especially if it involves a sacrifice.