What if I told you that taking yourself too seriously could be a serious impediment to your success as a leader? This idea came from a recent conversation with a leader. In that conversation, my buddy and fellow leader advised me to, “Take the job serious, but not yourself.” As I took that in, I didn’t really know how to apply it. You see, I love my job, and I want to be the absolute best at it; however, I have been operating under a flawed system. My young leader-flawed system looks something like this, in order to be effective at my job I must prove myself and never mess up. You see, my focus was in the wrong area. I was focused on myself. I would constantly reflect after a discussion, “Did I say the right thing?” Or as I entered meetings I would think, “I hope I don’t say/do something wrong.” My flawed approach was simple, stop taking myself so serious.
So what does that look like? How do leaders stop taking themselves serious and remain effective? First, let’s describe how it looks. Leaders that take their job very serious but are also able to have fun have a specific natural or organic look and feel to them. These leaders are relational, charismatic, and bold. They are not afraid to share their idea or vision and they are constantly strive to build and create relationships. They are not never overly anxious or stressed. In fact, they seem to have fun with their job. And does this have a positive influence on the individuals following these leaders? You bet it does. Followers are more likely to go the extra mile out of relational liken for the leader. And, followers are much more likely to approach these non-stress leaders knowing he/she will gladly listen to their questions.
This would never work for the serious leader. Serious leaders are constantly tripped on the fact that their next phrase may be wrong, sound wrong, sound silly, or lead their group down the wrong path. The serious leader is more likely to stress and be anxious before and during meetings. So, if this no-brainer is true then how can a serious leader lose his/her edge, but still be effective? The following are four easy steps to begin the process:
1. Be more relational
2. Stop guarding your words
3. Be bold, when an idea comes to your mind share it with conviction
4. Transition your thinking from self to others. It’s not about you, your speech does not have to be perfect.
So is it possible to take yourself a little less serious in order to improve your leadership? In sum, yes. Leaders that prescribe to this less serious model show a level of comfortability in their own skin. They’re not afraid to be themselves and are less guarded. So if you’re always growing like me, my advice is to guard your words less and be yourself more. Grow constantly but don’t forget to have fun.