When you look behind – are they following?

I have had an epiphany of late. To give context to what I wish to share, let me give you the background.

About 4 months ago I was given a portfolio in my church responsibility to oversee the “LDS Addiction and Recovery Program.” I was excited because for some time I had toyed with attending because of my interest in human development – now I would have to. I decided that instead of being an onlooker I would really like to do the program and this I did. It came with challenges though because I had no real addiction (or so I thought) I had given up alcohol, drugs, smoking, and sugar through sheer willpower and I don’t have a pornography problem. I felt a bit of a fraud sitting and listening to others baring their souls regarding these types of addictions. Then it struck me. Here were people with so called major issues in their lives and they were a lot more personally honest than I was. I would have cringed to bare my soul in this way. They were far more authentic and brave than I was. I then felt like a fraud for very different reasons. I realised that I was afflicted by the mother of all addictions – the cause of all addictions – being pride.

After more than forty years in the human development business, I was still deeply affected by this affliction and had no way of overcoming it regardless of countless methods I had gleaned over the years in self-improvement.

Pride is the cause of every human conflict, every human unhappiness and every human failure.

I thought about challenges businesses faced with different personalities and how that could limit what they do.

It took me back to something I read some time ago. “People don’t quit jobs – they quit managers.”

It got me thinking how insidious this problem is. Most organizations want quality people, but if pride permeates managements attitude, it is a nigh impossible endeavour. Even if the company was lucky enough to hook such a fish it wouldn’t take long for them to leave.

Pride also affects relationships in the home, on the sports field and in social interactions. It affects mood. It pervades every thought and action. It is debilitating, limiting and keeps the human spirit in bondage.

I would like to share an excerpt from a talk with you, something I find invaluable on many levels and hope that you will extract some gems from it too.

“Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance.

Most of us think of pride as self-centredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity— Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.”

Pride is essentially competitive in nature and allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.

Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them.

The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

To be able to acknowledge this has turned my life around. I genuinely do not fear what others think anymore. I have developed a compassion for people that never featured in my life before and I am far less judgemental. I am more at peace than I have ever been before. I thought that this program was for people with classic addictions. I now realize that anyone can profit hugely from it. The changes I see in the lives of those attending is remarkable.

My wife read what I’d written and asked a profound question: “I would love to hear how you propose to eliminate pride in organisations without removing the important element of “drive” in individuals?”

Certainly drive and competition go hand in hand. I thought about this for some time. I fell asleep before reaching a conclusion. The next day I couldn’t help thinking about what she had asked. The only explanation I could come up with was in the form of a question. What is the reason why individuals like to compete? Surely to win. Why do they want to win? I would imagine to be better than, be more acceptable than and be more desirable than others. Herein lies one of life’s greatest paradoxes. It is true that winners gain recognition. The question is the depth thereof. Being recognized for what you have done or for what you have is less fulfilling than being recognized for who you are.

It struck me then what the real difference between prideful and humble leaders was. Prideful leaders were those who wished to achieve for self-gain and humble leaders were those who preferred to help others achieve. Pride and leadership are contrary to each other.

A leader’s core responsibility should be to make others great. To elevate others to levels they did not feel capable of within themselves. Who wouldn’t be enthused and inspired by such a leader?

Wouldn’t such a leader be fulfilled by this too? Wouldn’t this elicit respect for the right reasons?

The strength of our society is dependent on the strength of our homes. The strength of our homes is determined by the strength of the leaders in our homes. Those same strong leaders are required in business too.

Alan Chazen – The Capacity Corporation


Do you recognise some areas in yourself as a leader or areas in your team that need improvement?

Contact Adriaan Groenewald for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside you as a leader and your organisation.

Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentatator

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