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By Darryl Stewart

Are you a jerk of a leader?

If you have had any success as a leader, you likely have some ego attached to that success. You have gotten things done by leveraging the talents of others. Congrats to you!

Now the reality check.

If you are an effective leader, then you are, by definition, getting things done through others. As you get better and better at this, you can get mighty big things done this way. Along the way, though, your ego can get mighty big as well. This inflating ego can become the thing that is holding you back from further growth as a leader. It can get so big that it can stop your progress entirely.

If you have the feeling that your leadership progress has stalled or slowed, you might just be experiencing what I am talking about.

I have had a few experiences lately that have made me reflect. In that process, I reviewed Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 bad habits of leaders from the book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

Three of the 20 habits relate directly to failing to be supportive of and thankful for the people we lead. This is a trap into which we must not fall. Just because we put the right person in the right place and supported them, does not mean we deserve all the credit for their successes. Far from it. We planted the seed, but they did all the hard work and they put up with all our bad habits while making us look good. We get some credit to be sure, but the bulk is theirs. If we take it all, we are limiting our own growth and possibly driving our best people away from us (not to mention being super annoying).

So here are the three bad habits from Marshall Goldsmith that relate directly to what I am talking about. 

  • Failing to give proper recognition (the inability to give praise and reward) 
  • Claiming credit that we don’t deserve (the most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success) 
  • Failing to express gratitude (the most basic form of bad manners) 

I know I am working on a few issues in these areas myself. How about you? 

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Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.