Leadership and the Self-Fulfilling prophecy

As a leader, do you want a workforce with high self-esteem? These kinds of people are not necessarily easy to manage. They think they can do just about anything, in order to succeed at the task at hand. Those with high self-esteem are usually high performers and can’t wait for the next challenge to come along. (Interestingly, people with low self-esteem typically require direction or instructions as well as supervision and are intimidated by new challenges.)

Now, if you, as a leader, do not have that same level of self-esteem, your first reaction may be to “put them in their place,” which is roughly beneath you. Leaders with low self-esteem can actually hold the organisation back, keeping high performance from happening with any consistency. In order to meet goals for performance, regardless of the organisations focus, it is important that each member of the leadership team have a high sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is typically reflected in how we act, what we say, and the words we choose. Are you hyper-critical of those around you? Is your first impulse to be sarcastic or negative? These are clues to your feelings about your own abilities, and show up in your own performance. Again, there is a direct relationship between the level of self-esteem and performance.

But where have we developed this opinion about ourselves, and our ability to make things happen?

If you stop and think about it, belief is probably the strongest determiner of success within a single human being, or an entire organisation. Self-efficacy is the belief in our ability to cause, to bring about, and make happen. It’s one’s own power to produce the desired effect. There is a principle that, “Human beings act not in accordance with the truth, but with the truth as they believe it to be.” So, what are the beliefs that are held by the organisation? By each department in the organisation? What are the beliefs held by leadership?

We know from experience that we are selective perceivers, and only look for information that sustains our beliefs. By identifying our personal and corporate beliefs, we can also uncover areas of opportunity. Could our belief in what is currently “true” be one of the things that is keeping ourselves and the organisation from reaching certain goals?

Old attitudes and old beliefs can get a new project stuck in the mud and unable to move forward. We need to challenge those old beliefs: Are they really true? Do they fit with our vision for the future?

Those in leadership positions have unique opportunities to mold the culture of an organisation. Like a sculptor, you can create what you see in your own imagination. Your attitudes and beliefs, the words you use in conversation, and your interactions with the workforce all need to be targeted at the positive, constructive culture that will take on the world, and succeed.

The expectations contained in a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy can work in both directions – up or down, depending on the expectations. If leadership has low expectations, then the workforce will actually conform to expectations, even if the employees know things can be different. So, when leadership has high expectations for the organisation, those expectations help to unleash the energy and creativity of the workforce. What you want to be doing is creating a workforce around you that is empowered to develop its full potential. You owe it to yourself, the workforce and the organisation to be a vital force in the realisation of potential.

It is important to understand that high-performers will want to get away from leaders who employ sarcasm and devaluation in order to maintain control. That passive/ aggressive mindset will drive them away. If you want to keep a high performance team, and may be feeling a little bit intimidated, it’s time for a little self-reflection and a shift in mindset that will draw you to the new picture of who you want to be as a leader. The goal is to create a workforce of high performers. They know they are good. They know they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. They define themselves this way. Anything is possible.

Are you going to give life to the potential of your workforce? Encourage a workforce with high self-esteem? The choice is up to you, not someone else. What will you choose to do?

Leaders, learn more about the “How,” contact Andy Massey at andy.massey@pacificinstitute.co.uk

 

© copyright 2016 The Pacific Institute® from Leadership in a High Performance CultureTM

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