CEO Coaching: Sharing Joy

If you lead an organization and can experience joy alone, without your team, you’re not a leader — you’re a selfish boor. I don’t mean you need others’ accolades to feel successful; that’s just low self-esteem. Rather, I mean that real leaders feel the most joy when they can celebrate and share the rewards of success with their team.

Some selfish bores can be very successful, but they aren’t real leaders — just opportunists who view their “team” as merely a tool to get what they want. If they’ve been around long enough, they may have learned how to mask their boorishness. They know that to fool talented people into working for them, they must appear to care, but their real self comes out over time.

Think of the leaders you admire. For most of you, I bet these folks treated their workers like partners in a journey, not as a means to their financial end. They were likely tough, but they had an inspired and committed workforce, because everyone felt like they were working toward the same end, and they received some rewards — not always monetary — for achieving their objectives. They were listened to, and they were able to influence how they did their job … and the leader got tremendous joy out of leading a winning team! He or she was as excited about teammates’ success as they were about their own.

I’m speaking to three audiences. If your boss doesn’t take joy in your success, find one who does. You’re not a tree; you can move. If you’re a leader who gets joy out of your people’s success, tell them! And if you’re a leader who’s striving for success but currently feel little concern or joy for your people, get help. At the very least, think hard about this. Pragmatically, you’ll never be as good as you could be in leading a large organization. Psychologically, you should realize that it’s not all about you! Your people don’t care if you get a bigger boat! You may eventually realize this, but the sooner you face reality, the quicker you can change it.

I’ve coached many CEOs. With the benefit of a rearview mirror, I can clearly see that the most successful ones are not only tough-minded but also able to share joy with their people when they win.

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