Be Less Visible To Trigger More Visible Success

Insight #333

“Sorry, people, there’s no more ego-room up here.”

. . .

Here’s another of my favorite leadership dilemmas. I think I’ll call it the Leadership Pyramid Paradox:

To climb to the top, let your ego be your driver. To fall from the top, let your ego be your driver.


Here’s how the paradox is created

The more successful you are at your job, the higher you will climb on the corporate ladder. The higher you climb, the bigger your office, the thicker your carpet and the fatter your wallet. You know this already, which is why you stepped onto the ladder in the first place.

However, many corporate climbers forget that the higher you climb, the more visible you become to those you stand on. Sorry, I mean those below you. I mean those you manage and lead.

Actually, you don’t become more visible. Your ego does. The more visible you are, the more that feeds your ego. The more bloated your ego, the less space you have to include others.

That’s when “we” becomes “I” until “I built this” supersedes “we did this.”

Hence the leadership paradox at the top of the pyramid:

  • If you want to be successful, then your ego must be your driver. Because to be promoted, you must be visible to your bosses, and they must see you as being successful.
  • Yet, if you want ongoing success, then the higher you climb, the more invisible you must become by making visible those below you.


How can you resolve this paradox?

The trick is to remember that height gives you vista, the view to see all of your colleagues. And then to use your perch on the pyramid not to shine, but to reflect, in both meanings of the word.

(Okay, I’ll be specific. The two meanings of “reflect” that have in mind are: to give back by sharing the shine, the glory, the rewards; and to think deeply by deliberating, pondering, contemplating.)

Let me end on this summary. The higher your ego helps you to climb, the more your ego should make room for other egos.

If you want ongoing success, that is.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

. . .