Thursday, August 25, 2011


I was in a meeting today when someone (who I cannot stress enough is NOT a member of my organization) went out of his way to treat me like I was an idiot. Completely misconstrued something I said and made me look stupid in front of a room full of people. Fortunately I had a conference call scheduled and had to leave the meeting right after his comments so I had to shake it off by the time I got back to my desk. My boss came by later to see if I was OK and to remind me that I'm not by a long shot the first person to be treated that way by this guy.

This afternoon I had a session of a leadership class I am taking at work. It's based on the Dale Carnegie book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and at first I was a little skeptical. But I don't really believe in turning down development opportunities even if they sounds just this side of cheesy. It turns out the class has got me looking at leadership in a completely new way. Nearly every session stresses the importance of showing appreciation, being far more lavish with praise than with criticism and developing a genuine interest in the people around you. The whole course seems to be built around the revolutionary idea that if you are nice to people and you treat them well, you will get better results out of them. It's been a terrific class and I'm grateful to work in a place where they are teaching us that just plain being good will make you a more effective leader.

So tonight as I have been getting ready for bed I've been thinking more about my interaction with the meanie. I don't want to give him more head space than he deserves but the whole thing really got me thinking about what kind it actually means to be successful. If you have a cool job and you are good at it but it's a known fact that you are arrogant and treat people badly then I tend to think you've failed on a pretty fundamental level. Tonight I'm resolving more than ever that really the only measuring stick I want to use is how I make other people feel.


HaH said...

Sorry that you had that experience. It can be really demoralizing.

During my MBA and now PhD work I read a lot of leadership and motivation and I always think the same thing about being a positive leader. But sometimes what I read and what I do are two very different things. I don't think I'm a bad leader on purpose, but I'm definitely more of a reserved person when it comes to giving positive feed back. And honestly I get uncomfortable receiving it as well. (Not that I want people to be jerks to me. I just like the idea of everyone having no emotions. :) )

And there have definitely been some people that I've worked with that I'd like to send them a copy of a particular leadership book with certain sections highlighted. :)

Senja said...

This is so true! In my previous job in Germany I was Head of the Events Department and my boss told me that I am too nice to my team. The thing is, nobody liked him as he was not very fair and everybody did was he wanted due to fear. I told him that I have a great team and that I will achieve more by being nice, respectful and strict. I still have a great friendship with all of them.

I really believe in being a positive leader. It makes such a difference. I need to read that book..

In the end if you think about it. How would you like to be treated as an employee? What will motivate you to do your best? That's what it comes down to.

Katie said...

Ack! I've been going through the exact same thing with someone I work with.

I've been literally SMOTHERING this person with praise, attention and my interest. But it's pretty much the hardest thing to do because what I really want to do is run away and avoid him at every turn.

CoCo said...

I'm always fascinated by human behavior. As you know I had an incident with my direct manager (first in 10-15 years of work) and this article about harmonious passion and obsessive passion validated the thought that the way people view their jobs is often how they view themselves.

miche said...

I just read that book. Great perspective... The principle works in every facet of life from work to shopping to family to friends and dating and marriage too.

Unknown said...

For the record, President Allen loved Carnegie!

k8 said...

that does not surprise me at all! the commitment pattern is straight lifted from his book!

Kersten said...

This reminded me of your entry. It's something that I'm trying to do more of with my co-workers. Thanks for the nice thoughts.