Be selfish. Be very selfish
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