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.