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Self-Serving Leadership is a Choice



My Sr. Manager told me I couldn’t be promoted because I was the only one who could do her job when she wasn’t there. While she recognized my talent and the value I had to add to the team and the organization, she chose to take advantage of it. She chose to focus on self. She chose not to invest in me with development. She chose not to partner or collaborate. She chose not to create conditions where I could continue to grow and be successful.


Her boss had already signed off on me for promotion. However, when I was offered a promotion, she would find a reason I couldn’t take the role. She told me that she was forced to relocate away from her family, and that the only way she could travel to see her family consistently was if I remained in role as acting Sr. Manager on a regular basis. She made it clear that as long as she was the Sr. Manager of that location, I would not be allowed to transfer or be promoted. I had encountered my first self-serving leader. On her next vacation, she received my notice.


There are leaders who use others as stepping stones in their rise to success, or simply as pawns in their own self-serving game. Then there are actual leaders. Leaders who put the company and the team first. These are individuals who share knowledge, communication, resources, and vulnerabilities to help others grow and rise to the next level of their own personal success. Those who have clarity that investment in others and collaboration are necessary to win the game long-term.


Once a leader has priorities are in order, effective leaders take the time to become subject matter experts on the vision, all aspects of the business, their clients, and the individuals that make up their team. This requires slowing down to listen, research and reflect.




· Listen

o Listen to thoughts, concerns, and ideas of both employees and clients/customers.

o Listen to learn and connect with people and the business.

o Listen to receive and be responsive to personal feedback.




· Research

o Research based on any concerns surfaced and address with urgency.

o Research competition and revise strategy as applicable.







· Reflect

o Reflect on daily financial analysis, strategy execution, and future planning needs based on learnings.

o Reflect on any personal leadership behaviors that may not be creating conditions for growth, success or retention.



A leader who allows the processes of listening, researching, and reflecting to become routine will eliminate the self-serving tendencies of leadership by taking others into consideration. These processes also enhance the consistency of their leadership effectiveness. And, the implementation of these processes will create the conditions where both the leader and those they lead are successful long-term.

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