Coaching corporate leadership through their 'holy shift'
By Bill Treasurer
I'm not fan of the cliché that, "Any PR is good PR."
That is, unless you learn from the "bad PR."
And bad PR is clearly what the founder and upper management at the ride-sharing service Uber have been going through during the past couple of months.
Rather than disrupting the car-hailing industry, Uber has been dealing with sexual discrimination claims and the exodus from its management and engineering ranks. When the departing president talks about the leadership approach at Uber being "inconsistent" with those "beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided" his career, speculation can run wild.
If Uber leadership is to benefit from this bad PR, it has to experience what I call a "holy shift." While a failure can provide a sort of psychological butt-whooping, it also can help a conceited leader to pivot from being preoccupied with himself, to being focused on helping others succeed. This critical pivot is a holy shift.
The shift involves moving from selfishness to selflessness. Instead of thinking, "How successful can I be?," the thinking shifts to "What can I do to help them be more successful?"
As one of your company's communications leaders, you have the opportunity to learn from the Uber experience. You can apply the lessons to your team, or step up your strategic counsel to corporate execs to coach your company's leadership to quietly go through any needed holy shift.
'Serve those you're leading'
Having worked with thousands of leaders over the last two decades, I've become convinced that leaders who focus more on others have far greater success than those who are self-absorbed.
I've also seen a natural law at play: The more arrogant a leader is, the more likely it is that he or she will experience a humbling failure. And that's a good thing.
Instead of treating people as resources who do work for a company's leaders, those leaders should shift to being a resource for them. Leaders begin collaborating with their team to help them set goals. They remove barriers to their performance. They provide skill-stretching assignments and training opportunities.
Instead of acting as a cop who enforces rules, watching for violations, and punishing noncompliance, leaders become a coach who invests time in employee development, draws out a higher level of performance, and helps employees take pride in their work. Often, it takes an upsetting failure to startle a leader out of any rosy leadership delusions, and help him or her evolve past being self-interested to being much more interested in the people he or she is fortunate to lead.
The idea is for you, as a leader, to serve those you're leading by putting your influence to work for them. By "serve" I don't mean like a white-gloved butler who is careful not to disturb people as he adjusts their lobster bibs. I mean taking intentional, deliberate, and assertive action for the good of others. Success as a leader is contingent on bettering the lives and careers of the people you are leading.
Leadership, in other words, is not about you, it's about them. Getting over yourself is a must. With the Holy Shift, another natural law is at work: The less focused on yourself you are, the better you'll get as a leader.
The fastest way to great results is taking a genuine and active interest in helping others succeed. When you focus on using your communications expertise and leadership for the good of others, you take a genuine interest in getting to know their needs, goals, aspirations and gifts. You start helping people build skills, confidence, and self-reliance so they can add more value to your team, the company and their careers. When the holy shift has truly taken hold, you become an aggressive champion, builder, and developer of others.