“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” —Booker T. Washington
The saddest thing about business and success is the internal political games that some people are willing to play in order to get themselves ahead. There are two different ways of getting to the top and they both look very different and have different impacts on your ability to lead. You can get to the top by pulling others up; serving them, inspiring them, and encouraging them. Or, you can get to the top by pushing others down in an attempt to make yourself look better and eliminate any competition. When you pull others up you serve in a hero role; you earn trust, respect, and loyalty. When you push others down you become the enemy; losing all trust, respect, and influence. Here are three questions to help you determine if you are pulling or pushing.
What is your attitude?
Do you see others as being capable and willing to do the task at hand? If you have the attitude that you are the only one capable of doing things right, I guarantee you are pushing others down. Recognizing the strengths that others bring to the table and giving them the opportunity and support to use those strengths is the trademark of a leader who is pulling others up.
Do you have the influence?
Do you inspire others? Do they trust and respect you? Without these things you do not have influence. If you do not have influence you cannot lead effectively. You gain the ability to inspire others and you earn their trust and respect by being a leader who reaches out and helps them along. If you continually push others down, you may have the false illusion that you have influence, but your employees know different.
Are you willing to make the investment?
If you are unwilling to invest your time and resources into building others up, then you are selfishly pushing them down. I’m sure you had a mentor at some point in your career, someone who you looked up to, someone who was willing to invest their time and energy into showing you the ropes and helping you grow. These are the true leaders. When you are unwilling to mentor others, you appear to have a hidden agenda. Employees will feel that you are withholding pertinent information in an attempt to make yourself look better.
Pull Others Up
Whether you are pulling others up or pushing them down, it will be reflected in your attitude, your ability to influence, and your willingness to invest in others. True leadership is about pulling others up, making them look good, and helping them to become the best they can be. This is the type of leadership that actually makes you, as the leader, look good. When you are pushing others down as you climb your way to the top, you are really showing everyone that you are not actual leadership material at all. Leadership is not about you so reach down and start pulling others up!
Spoiler Alert: Then My House Burned Down
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