INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
You underestimate the damage you’re doing when you engage in people-pleasing behavior. By this I mean to please others and gain approval, you say yes when inside you’re screaming “hell no!” You tell boldface white lies to avoid hurting feelings, and you suppress your voice, the power of your words, and the value of sharing what you’re really thinking, of sharing the authentic you. You actively avoid confrontation, thus giving away the opportunity to change a situation for the better. You sacrifice productivity as you take on more and more in your desire not to disappoint and be liked. You act like the robotic, versus real, version of you. In truth, though, people pleasing often backfires. The pleaser acts as such to gain affirmation and instead draws contempt. Author Marcia Sirota explains this phenomenon: “Human beings are highly sensitive to power dynamics in relationships, always looking to see who’s the alpha and who’s at the bottom of the totem pole. We admire and reward the confident—we want to befriend them, marry them, and promote them to senior positions. On the other hand, we’re aware, even if only on a subconscious level, of those who are insecure and lacking in confidence. People who aim to please come across as weak and needy, and many of us are inclined to react negatively toward them.” It gets worse. People pleasers attract manipulators who take advantage of them, and they’re often the target of workplace bullying. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates twelve million people experience workplace bullying each year, with people pleasers being the majority of those reporting such bullying. To put an end to your people-pleasing, think of the you-niverse, not the universe; stop trying to be everything for everybody. Start with you and set healthy boundaries that allow you to take care of your needs, too. You’ll stay balanced, charged, and better able to serve others in a more authentic way. And ask yourself if constantly making others happy is really worth sacrificing your own happiness. It doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly become selfish. People pleasing behavior itself is actually selfish because you’re doing what’s easiest and are cheating others out of the benefit of your real thoughts and reactions.
IMPERFECTIONS (something many leaders get wrong)
Leaders unwittingly send the wrong message when they show up constantly busy and harried, rarely having time to engage with their employees. They think it sends the message that they’re super-important and in high-demand. But instead it simply says they’re unavailable and overwhelmed. I remember a boss who seemed to take pride in rushing from meeting to meeting, decision to decision, never with a quality moment to spare for anyone. I never shook the sense that she was unorganized, didn’t know how to delegate, and didn’t prioritize or say no well. I’m not alone in feeling that’s what “overbusy” behavior from a leader signals. The irony here is that if you commit to being available and present for your employees, it saves you time as you’re more connected to the pulse of the organization, can discern what priorities truly are, are better able to delegate, and can better coach to get greater results so you don’t have to be so harried to begin with. The harsh truth is that being overbusy is a choice—one with consequences. You can show up as frazzled, distracted, and self-important, or as present, listening, and interested. The latter creates psychological safety and a culture of connectedness, the former leaves you on an island.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
I recently released a course on LinkedIn Learning titled Staying Positive in the Face of Negativity–check it out below:
One of the many tactics for yielding a positive mindset that I encourage in the course is to practice what I call grindfulness — a combination of gratitude and mindfulness. It’s about finding joy in the daily grind of life. Gratitude alone isn’t enough to sustain positivity because psychology research shows we struggle to express it on a consistent basis, sometimes laboring to find things worthy of showing gratitude for. On the other hand, just being mindful each day of what to be thankful for isn’t enough either, you have to act on your observations. In the middle is grindfulness, being present in daily life, noticing details, and expressing appreciation for them, in the moment. For example, noticing something small each day, like how you hit the send button and then, magically, your email appears in someone’s inbox 1,000 miles away, or how the leaves shimmer in that tree outside your kitchen window, and then taking a quiet moment to marvel at and appreciate it. It’s not about passively journaling those moments, it’s about actively living those moments—and building a daily habit of doing so.