top of page

Selfish People Don’t Get Respect or Trust

Selflessness - Putting the needs of others before our own needs, desires or convenience.

Marty didn’t know it, but nobody wanted to follow him. He was not a bad guy. He had talent. He knew the business. He could make us laugh and tell a great story. Unfortunately, when it came to his ability to influence people, he was a failure. People didn’t respect him. They didn’t really trust him. They merely tolerated him being their leader.

Marty missed a key lesson in leadership – people pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Marty read a lot of books on leadership, but he must have skipped the chapters that talked about service. There was no doubt Marty believed in service. But there was also no doubt that he believed we were all there to serve him, his goals, and his reputation.

We often say that people don’t follow us because of what we can do. They follow us because of who we are. Who we are is revealed in our habits. And those habits become apparent during stressful times.

We all knew who Marty was because when the going got tough, Marty became selfish. He would get angry and complain about other people. He would worry about how other people saw him. When things were going well, he talked about “his team”. When things were hard, he talked about “them”. For Marty, we were the means to his ends. We were the tools that he was going to use to accomplish his goals. As a result, he had people who complied with his wishes, but none of us were committed to his leadership.

Marty never really spent much time in the winner’s circle at work. He would have a good quarter or even a good year, but his career was characterized by mediocre performances and unmotivated teams.