We all have bad days and moments, but the best leaders always control their personal behavior....
I once observed an example of bad behavior in a person on a flight from San Diego to Washington, DC. Granted, it’s a Monday, people are leaving the West Coast to go to the capital in coach on a 757 and there were 43 hopefuls for an elite upgrade when it was announced that “the first class cabin has checked in full.” You know, not the end of the world by any means, but still a frustrating moment for many unenlightened souls. One guy then displayed the worst in self-serving, it’s all about me, behavior. His first move was to publicly chastise a few folks for being in his path on the way to the red carpet for early boarding passengers.
Then, disapprovingly seated in 7E, the first row in economy-plus, he boldly talks the entire 30 minutes of boarding time on his phone, loudly directing some unfortunate soul on the end of the line to execute the deal of the century. Wow, you must be important. And through the entire flight, his edgy, prickly behavior irritated those around him and he made a point of crossing into the forbidden first class zone to use, oh no, the first class toilet! This guy had no boundaries. Well, that behavior is actually not that rare and that was not what really caught my attention.
What really intrigued me was that this guy was wearing his company shirt with embroidered logo on the pocket. (I doubt he was clever enough to wear the competition’s shirt.) A defense contractor going to slug it out in the beltway, just getting warmed up. So naturally, I associated his behavior with the company he apparently works for and there you have a first impression. What if this guy is in a key leadership position? Notice that I didn’t say is a key leader.
Maybe he’s the lead business developer manager, which would be impressive. Regardless, that simple story provides this lesson: people are always watching you, especially when you are the leader. We all have bad days and moments, but the best leaders always control their personal behavior, especially in public, and value their position of authority, but also recognize that it has great responsibility and accountability.
Being aware of this, demonstrating acute social awareness and emotional intelligence, are positive attributes of the best leaders and ones that you should aspire to demonstrate.