"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." –Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
There has never been a word in leadership that is as nuanced in polar opposite directions as pride. On one hand, we are encouraged to take pride in ourselves, our team, and our work. On the other hand, we are told that pride is the common reason for a leader’s downfall.
How can one small word be so contrary in meaning?
It’s like we are always standing on a balance, and we are always warned to watch which direction we lean into.
Pride is a necessary trait for anyone who wants to achieve something. But there is a thin line between pride and arrogance that people have to tread daily, and that line often gets blurred so easily.
For me, pride is important if applied in the sense of “pride in helping the team and organization grow, empowering others,” and “pride in knowing that I can build good relationships with my people.”
But when ego starts getting in the way of learning new things, seeing different ways of thinking, and putting other people first, it becomes a negative thing.
There is a difference between leading with principles and making sure that everyone functions through those principles by leading by example, versus forcing people to do things that you think are right.
The leader’s pride also influences the organization’s pride. And when leaders become arrogant, the organization becomes the same way–and this hinders the relationships necessary to achieve your business goals, with your clients, your investors, and within the team.
Pride becomes toxic when we become inflexible, unwilling to learn from and admit our mistakes, when we take ourselves too seriously, refuse to share the limelight and give credit where it is due, and forget that we are just humans.
And the thing is, it is normal and easy to fall into that negative pride daily. That’s why we have to constantly practice self-reflection and awareness every day–we need to catch it before it’s too late.
Pride builds confidence, productivity, and a sense of ownership that becomes loyalty within the team. But when we get so absorbed in ourselves that we forget that our growth is a team effort, it becomes a pitfall that is difficult to climb out of, and can lead to disasters: for your bottom line, your public relations, and the company culture.
Having people you are close to, whom you value and trust, tell you the truth when you become arrogant is important. Aside from holding yourself accountable, making sure that the team is holding each other accountable can also help prevent this slip.
Lastly, always express your gratitude to the people around you. Thanking others for their contributions helps remind yourself that you can’t go this far without someone else’s help. Sharing successes with others and being open to criticism is a sign of humility. And a great leader shines when he can both take pride and maintain humility at the same time.
Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.