Brady Kimber, Director of Human Resources at LDS Business College.
For many decades now, leadership practitioners and scholars alike have touted the benefits of selfless behaviors. You may have seen a Simon Sinek TED Talk about why leaders eat last, or why great leaders help others feel safe. Or, perhaps you’ve studied Robert Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership. These cited examples may refer to distinct leadership traits or behaviors, but they share a common thread of selflessness. In that same vein, I would like to offer up three selfless behaviors that are sure to enhance your career:
- Admit Your Mistakes and Own the Consequences. Understandably, we sometimes try and avoid taking responsibility for our bad choices or mistakes and the ensuing consequences. As a result, many workplaces are chocked full of people willing to let others take the heat for the mistakes they’ve made. Lolly Daskal, President and CEO of Lead From Within, offers up this advice: “Never try to cover up or blame others for what went wrong. If you messed up, admit it and own it. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – simply acknowledge your responsibility and move on. Insecure leaders may be afraid of looking weak, but not admitting their mistake makes them look worse and costs them respect.”[i] Admitting your mistakes and taking full ownership of the consequences are signs of a mature, selfless leader who is ready for upward growth and enhanced responsibilities.
- Demonstrate Genuine Concern when Offering Correction. When others don’t meet our expectations, we need to fight the natural impulse to cast judgment without understanding all of the facts. Spencer W. Kimball, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that we should demonstrate genuine concern for others even when we are called upon to correct them. “We need to be able to look deeply enough into the lives of others,” Kimball said, “to see the basic causes for their failures and shortcomings.”[ii] This counsel doesn’t mean that we eagerly accept every excuse that comes our way and toss accountability into the wind. It does mean, however, that we should attempt to get to the root cause of why someone might not be performing at optimal levels. Perhaps they’ve recently experienced a significant tragedy in the family, for example. Or, maybe they are experiencing burn-out due to the long hours they’ve been putting in for the last four months. If you can help someone remedy the underlying causes of their failures and shortcomings, you elevate their professional trajectory as well as enhance your own leadership capabilities.
- Proactively Recognize the Contributions of Others. Selfish thinking convinces us that someone else’s success somehow diminishes our own. Hence, we may have a tendency to withhold offering our praise and recognition. Shawn Murphy, CEO of WorqIQ, invites us to, “Imagine the powerful influence a team of appreciated employees can have on results when there is a culture of recognition. A culture of recognition benefits employees and the business.” Murphy went on to highlight that, “Globoforce, an organization that helps companies implement recognition solutions, found a 32% increase in productivity in companies that practice peer-to-peer recognition. In Globoforce’s 2012 Employee Recognition Survey, they found engagement increases 57% when employees are recognized.”[iii] Clearly, there is a positive impact on worker productivity due to a culture of recognition. I’ve observed that just a simple ‘thank you’ now and again can have a positive impact on morale, which in turn, can elevate engagement and productivity levels. If you can learn to leverage genuine recognition as means to lead or contribute to a more productive team, you’ll be sending a clear signal to management that you’re ready for career advancement.
I’m a firm believer in the age-old adage, “the more you give, the more you have.” Selfless leaders the world over have given credence to this seemingly paradoxical principle. I have personally worked with several selfless leaders, and I have witnessed firsthand the organizational growth and enhanced productivity that comes as a result of their genuine selfless behaviors. Incorporating these three selfless behaviors into your workplace interactions are sure to help you achieve more and enhance your career in ways that would not otherwise be possible. And by the way, the people you work with are sure to appreciate a more selfless you, too.
[i] Daskal, Lolly, 4 Impressive Ways Great Leaders Handle Their Mistakes, Inc.com., 23 Apr. 2018
[iii] Murphy, Shawn, 10 Rules for Recognizing Employees That Increase Commitment, Inc.com, 3 Mar. 2017