“Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.” Colin Powell’s Lessons in Leadership.
In our Patterns of Behavior discussed in our leadership sessions, the Sentinel pattern can often times let their ego rule their decisions and and their thinking. With ego comes demanding a certain degree respect from others and following protocol that stems from “old school thinking.” Traditionally we do as we are told whether we agree or not. It is better than “making waves” and it is respectful. Sentinels prefer the custom, tried and true ways of getting things done. The Sentinel will take calculated risks that are based on conventional and traditional methods and “the way we’ve always done things.” When working for a Sentinel, they are less likely to support and encourage us to think outside the boundaries, which can lead to mediocrity at best or turnover due to a lack of creativity in decision-making over time. However, our leadership assessment results show that those taking appropriate moderate to high risks increase the probability of greater job satisfaction, less turnover and moving more quickly into higher management positions.
In general we have a tendency to risk less when we have something to gain and we risk more when we have something to lose. Think about Las Vegas and as people lose money, they start doubling down on bets trying to win the money back. That’s what makes Vegas work. However, when we have won money and are in the black, we tend to place smaller bets.
Similarly, think of your favorite football team. When they have a lead in the game, the tendency is to play it safe and stop taking risks. They play not to lose at that point and play more conservatively versus continuing to take chances and playing to win. Often times the opposing team catches up to them. The losing team is still taking chances and risking big because they have something to lose, the game.
This applies in business as well. When everything seems to be doing well we tend to maintain the status quo, not willing to take higher risks with change. We hold on to the money and conventional methods that appear to be working. We stay the course, taking the path of least resistance and only seeing what is easiest to see and what we want to see versus what we need to see. This is the enemy within. It is an illusion of doing well, when we are really marching in place, not going anywhere, while the competitor is moving forward. But if we start losing, we are more apt to take bigger risks to try to turn the situation around.
Those at the higher levels did not get there or stay there by not taking risks. They got there by being willing to take appropriate risks along the way. However, risk taking is often viewed as gambling, rolling the dice, all or nothing, Evil Knievel. The truth is, risk is coming up with new and creative ideas to make us better as a team, department or organization. It is being willing to implement them after appropriate consideration and planning. Leaders look at risk different. Leaders play to win versus play not lose.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of greater success. The truly great leaders are truly great at thinking out of the box and encouraging others to do the same and then bringing it back to what makes sense for our team and company.
To understand the leadership patterns of behavior and how to coach your team around them to achieve greater success, consider one of our individual or team coaching packages. http://leadadvantageinc.com/coaching/