Modesty is the Best Policy

Charalambos A.Vlachoutsicos is an adjunct professor in the International MBA Program at Athens University of Economics and Business.  He frequently shares his 30 years of business expertise in Harvard Business Review, and most recently shared how to cultivate engaged employees.

There are several things we know about management – most of us have been around the block a few times.  We know that teams with synergy and a real sense of empowerment enhance an organization’s effectiveness and that a top-down, rigid hierarchy seldom works.  However,
most management structures still adhere to that command and control model by default and both turf wars and lack of synergy result.  If in fact we are hoping for true collaboration we must ensure that every interaction with our subordinates fosters interdependence, or mutuality.

Vlachoutsicos outlines 6 lessons of mutuality and provides those essential details that allow us to apply what we may already know, but have yet to implement.  The first lesson is to:

  1. Be modest.  I am certain this immediately clashes with the capitalist drive to differentiate and prove yourself.  This drive to assert our skills and dominance often serves to discourage feedback and the exchange of ideas so that you deprive yourself of added knowledge and input.

He tells the story of a German CEO in a daily management meeting he attended.  All heads reported in with success but then Kurt stood up.  He had a condescending manner that clearly conveyed his superiority to all in the room and he spent an hour giving irrelevant directions and supporting stories of his past successes.  No one spoke and the meeting adjourned with thick tension and irritation.

Don’t showcase your insecurities by talking about yourself, do more listening and share failures as well as successes.  We must be seen as catalysts for problem solving, not THE problem solver, or in some cases the problem causer!


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