Why Being a Self Serving Leader is So Dangerous

Good leadership is focused on others, but self-serving leadership undermines that principle to focus on the ego and the symptoms can take hold and begin damaging your leadership before you’re even aware. Be on guard against these signs so you can recognize them in yourself before they take root and grow:

Arguing. If you find yourself often arguing with others or in a mindset where you’re right and others are wrong, you’re likely coming across as rigid and unwilling to listen. Stop arguing and start being open to finding points of agreement.

Absence. If you’re always engaged in something else when your people need you, they’ll see you as distracted, absorbed and preoccupied. Work to becoming a leader who empowers, inspires and motivates by being available and accessible.

Defensiveness. When your leadership is about protecting and defending yourself, you’re likely to find yourself working against those you’re supposed to be leading.

Boasting. When you take all the credit instead of sharing it with your team, you show them where your priorities are, so don’t expect them to work so hard next time. Spotlight your people instead of yourself.

Bluster. If you’re in the habit of speaking over others, interrupting, and making statements without allowing others to respond or express their own thoughts, you kill the energy and ideas of your team. Talk less and listen more.

Competitiveness. Competition can spur people to do great work, but if you’re competing against those you lead, you’re setting a bad example. Remember that they’re on your side; work to elevate their performance and focus your competitive side elsewhere.

Envy. When you’re jealous or begrudging of those you lead, remember that leadership at its core is taking pleasure in other people’s success. Celebrate, appreciate and recognize the work and success of others.

Self-promotion. If your leadership is ego-driven, you’re missing the point. Turn your attention to elevating those you lead, not yourself. Any time you  find yourself wanting to promote yourself, change it up and honor your team instead.

Delusion. if you’re basing your leadership on a false impression of your own self-importance, you need to understand that grandstanding serves only to isolate you from those you are trying to influence and lead, and it’s counterproductive to bringing people together to do great things. Break down the false and misleading impressions you have of yourself and practice leading from reality.

Ego. When you think of leadership as something you do to serve yourself, your leadership is bogged down in ego. Instead, try dedicating your energy to helping others be successful. Be known as a leader who serves others instead of yourself.

Self-serving leadership is dangerous to you and to those you lead. Few things can do more to undermine your influence, respect and trust.

Lead from within: It’s easy to fall into self-serving leadership behaviors, even if it’s not the way you normally operate. So be a thoughtful leader who is self-aware at all times.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

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  1. Fallon Godwin-Butler

    17. Jul, 2021

    Thank you for an insightful blog post! I think the behaviors you highlighted are the vital components to the downfall of a leader. Leadership, by nature, needs constituents and a continuous desire to learn. One will leave, and the other is impossible if an argumentative, ego-centered mindset causes a hindrance. I believe leadership is like a pyramid, or even a plant. If one is not building the foundation, or growing the roots, the core is doomed to crumble before the pinnacle or bloom can be reached.

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