A car speeds by, and then just before the exit it cuts in front of you in the congested traffic near the airport! As you settle into your seat on the plane, a man with a handful of luggage pushes through the aisle and points at the unoccupied middle seat in your row (where you had intentionally put your computer bag). Finally, back at home you are frantically trying to catch up on emails and your son comes up begging you to play catch again. His repeated requests finally reach your ears as you skim your inbox searching fruitlessly for documents promised to you last week. Then, after an exhausting day, you collapse in bed and just as you’re drifting off hear the baby start to cry in the other room.
How will you respond in these situations? How have you responded? If we are honest with ourselves and deeply examine our thoughts and attitude, in many of these instances we treat others as objects, rather than as people. We know how we should act or respond, but we often betray our sense of what is right, inflate our own virtue, and emphasize or even inflate other’s faults. People, just like you, with feelings, goals, difficulties, families, priorities; those people become objects that are merely in the way or just exist to help you accomplish your goals.
I recently participated in a discussion of the book, Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, by the Arbinger Institute. This book forced me to reflect on my perspective and behavior in similar situations, both in my personal life and at work. I will admit, the self-reflection was humbling. Pride often gets in my way and I don’t always believe the best in others or honor the actions I know I should take.
Leadership is service. Service is “others” focused. Are you putting away your pride and living as a servant leader? I challenge you to examine how you are viewing, treating, and serving others. Are you treating others as people you can help or as objects you can use? Reflecting on this question can greatly change your perspective, your actions, and your impact as a leader!
Joel Van Egdom, Interstates Director of Strategy & Project Executive