A leader has an ego, and there is nothing wrong with that. This person wants to succeed and have the results show he or she knows how to manage people. The difficulty arises when a leader does not fully understand how to keep self-interest in check. There is a certain level of selfishness that is important, but it cannot be excessive.
A typical office is full of social interaction which includes politics. A selfish person is going to be looking out for number one, and that can be a serious problem. A selfish leader is going to blame subordinates for problems that arise. It gets even worse when the same person starts stealing ideas from others and claiming to be the originator. Subordinates can easily spot a selfish person in charge. They begin to feel that their efforts do not matter and if trouble happens, they will be thrown into the fire by their supervisor. Selfish leaders are:
- Unwilling to share ideas;
- Not interested in developing relationships;
- Insensitive to the feelings of subordinates.
The end results of selfish behavior can be a short-term gain followed by a long-term loss. A selfish leader is going to assume quick promotion but will not always happen. There may be several years in between promotions, and the consequences of selfish behavior will stall, or imperil, advancement.
The Leader with Lack of Self
Such a person still has ego needs but understands that his or her primary role the organization is to inspire and encourage employees. A selfless leader has some very distinctive qualities that become very apparent. These include:
- High values. These will include integrity, compassion, and a sense of fairness;
- Team builder. Instead of being overly concerned about personal needs, a selfless leader is going to concentrate on building a team of eager workers;
- Assumes responsibility for outcomes. A selfless leader does not waste time pointing fingers. Assuming full responsibility for the performance of subordinates can be risky, but it is the standard for good leader.
- Gives credit where it is due. The worst thing any leader can do is steal the glory from a hard-working subordinate. A selfless leader is going to make certain that those who work hard are given a well-earned recognition.
It may appear to be a contradiction in terms, but servant leadership is the epitome of the selfless leader. The team or the group is what comes first, and the leader’s role is not that of a Prussian drill master. Instead, the leader becomes a guide, coach, and administrator of the group. The benefits of servant leadership can be extensive. Diversity is important in the modern workplace. It means that one ethnic group or gender cannot be favored over another. Servant leadership permits everyone to be given the proper amount of attention. It is a personalized management style that addresses the employee regardless of ethnicity. A strong sense of loyalty develops as a person realizes the group leader wants to help. Involvement within a group can be encouraged as the leader, having developed a sense of loyalty from the staff, begins to empower subordinates to make decisions. Because of both respect and trust been engendered, there is a high level of morale in the team and productivity is thereby promoted.
Employers try to encourage staff to put the common good above and beyond personal gain. A leader who proves to be someone that cares more about objectives and employees are going to be able to promote such sacrifice. He or she can lead by example, and that is one of the best motivators in the workplace.
As mentioned earlier, individual needs cannot be totally ignored by any leader. While this person wishes to be a servant to the staff, there is also the overall career to keep in mind. Fortunately, a selfless leader can meet personal aspirations because of the increased productivity and morale boosting within the supervised group. Being unselfish does have benefits above and beyond personal relationships. A good leader is going to understand that. Business history points out that the failings of many competent leaders are an inability to accept responsibility and inspire people. Any manager who puts employees ahead of individual ambitions is going to do quite well.