Be self­ish. Be very self­ish

Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

Here is a lead­er­ship les­son: Be self­ish. Be very self­ish. For this les­son to be ef­fect i ve, t hough, we need to un­der­stand what self­ish­ness is. It is typ­i­cally de­fined as be­ing con­cerned ex­ces­sively or ex­clu­sively with one­self. For in­stance, when some­one hears a CEO de­scribed as self­ish, his first thought might be: “The CEO is max­imis­ing per­sonal fi­nan­cial re­wards at the cost of the com­pany’s in­ter­ests.” If that is the case, it is un­for­tu­nate and un­ac­cept­able. But there’s a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent way to view self­ish­ness: that if lead­ers self­ishly take care of their feel­ings, it will ben­e­fit not only them but also ev­ery­one around them, in­clud­ing the com­pa­nies they lead.

In or­der to achieve this, lead­ers must stop harm­ing them­selves and start tak­ing care of them­selves. Con­sider th­ese ques­tions: What are the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects of self­ish­ness that will help us as lead­ers? What are the men­tal states that cause us harm that we should re­duce or elim­i­nate, and the men­tal states that will give us ben­e­fits that we should ac­quire or in­crease?

The f irst step in be­com­ing a self ish leader is to re­move the harm­ful emo­tions that dis­tract us from clear and ef­fec­tive de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Take anger, for ex­am­ple: It re­leases neu­ro­trans­mit­ter chem­i­cals known as cat­e­cholamines, which give us a burst of en­ergy. Our heart rate ac­cel­er­ates, our blood pres­sure rises and our breath­ing quick­ens. Our at­ten­tion nar- rows and be­comes locked on to the tar­get of our anger, and we can’t pay at­ten­tion to any­thing else. We are now ready to fight or f lee. For hu­mans liv­ing in an­other era, this re­sponse would have been very help­ful, but in the mod­ern world, our re­ac­tions get bot­tled up be­hind a desk: They have nowhere to go and thus get tan­gled up in­side us – or worse, di­rected to­ward our em­ploy­ees. The re­sult­ing adren­a­line rush, which can last for days, low­ers our anger thresh­old, mak­ing it eas­ier for us to get an­gry again later on. In other words, we can eas­ily get trapped in the vi­cious cir­cle of anger. Ask your­self this: As a leader, have I ever made a good de­ci­sion when I was an­gry and out of con­trol?

All neg­a­tive emo­tions have sim­i­lar

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