Humility vs. Self-Deprecation

Geschäftsleute diskutieren beim Meeting“I have a question,” said Neil.  “I use a lot of self-deprecating humor.  Can that be a bad thing?”  As Neil’s coach, I asked why he used that form of humor.  He replied that he uses it to level the playing field with people.  As a senior executive, he doesn’t want to come across as arrogant or smarter than others.  “I am surrounded by very bright, innovative people, and I don’t have any corner on the intelligence market.  I want them to feel comfortable knowing their ideas are welcome.  Just because I’m the boss doesn’t make me better than them.”  When I then asked him why he posed the question about whether his self-deprecating humor can be a bad thing, he responded that it didn’t always elicit the comfortable chuckle he was seeking; in fact, it seemed to make some people feel uncomfortable. Continue reading

Drawing on the Gifts of the Introvert

Shy nerd. Timid student anxious of social situationsMeeting after meeting, Dave sat in the team gatherings, eyes down, and said nothing, except to report on his project’s status when asked – usually a quiet 10-word summary.  The rest of the team debated and problem-solved and joked and gossiped.  Sometimes Dave would break a smile.  But everyone knew Dave to be an introvert, not prone to chiming in with opinions or participating in the team’s socializing.  He was accepted as a contributing team member.  And they worked as if he were not in the room. Continue reading

The Impact of a Volatile Leader

Angry businessmanSome leaders don’t know when to keep their mouths shut.  You know the type – they get hijacked about something, and out of their mouths comes something so inappropriate as to elicit horrified gasps from some people and cringing anguish from those who would like to be supportive of them.  And usually, the trail of fallout from their outbursts is like the aftershocks of an earthquake – felt and relived over and over again for a long time after the main event. Continue reading

Spotting Your Blind Spots

woman driver looking adjusting rear view car mirrorWe all know that spot in our cars that holds the danger of our misjudging a car next to us and just behind.  In rental cars we quickly look for it and calibrate our driving to adjust for it.  We know those blind spots can cause us trouble.  Why is it, then, that we don’t give the same due diligence to the blind spots in our actions, habits, values, and beliefs that can cause us repeated difficulty in our careers? Continue reading