Charlie Sheenitis… are you in danger of getting infected?

Posted March 2, 2011 in Communication, Latest News & Insights

“I’m on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen.”  Ah yes… and couldn’t we all be so lucky to have a “hit” of that.  If you caught Piers Morgan lobbing softballs at Sheen the other night or his GMA interview, you were guaranteed to hear a few choice quotes like that one and “I have a disease? Bullshit.  I cured it with my brain!”  It’s easy to quickly write off Sheen’s behavior as yet another example of a spoiled brat celebrity who’s life is operating in a parallel universe, but I think highly successful leaders need to take careful note.  Leaders, like celebrities, can fall victim to the deadly trap of believing their own hype.

The downside of having a series of major and early career wins is that, if you’re not careful, you can fall into the trap of thinking that you are, somehow, better than everyone else around you.  You can start getting addicted to the high of success, the rush that comes with the big wins and find yourself jones-ing for a steady stream of people praising you for your wonderfulness.

It can become seductive. You start living in your own bubble, stop listening to other people and drinking your own kool-aid.  And, before you know it you’re suffering from delusions of significance… aka – Charlie Sheenitis.

The best way to immunize yourself from this affliction is to be rigorous about asking for and surrounding yourself with people who will give you straight up feedback…on an ongoing and continuous basis.  In Susan Scott’s great book “Fierce Leadership”, Scott trashes annual anonymous 360 feedback reviews and challenges leaders to actively embark on 365 feedback reviews.  That is, get feedback on your performance every single day.  Not sure how to start?  Here’s a simple approach to helping you stay grounded:

Ask a colleague… what are three things that you see me doing really well as a leader / manager / supervisor/peer/etc?

Then… what is one thing that I could do that you think would really improve my effectiveness?  (now keep your mouth shut and listen… I mean really listen)

Get curious… ask for specifics on what you could do better?  Don’t judge and don’t debate.  Just clarify and ask for concrete suggestions.

Act… now go and put the suggestions into action, then…

Follow-up… how did I do?  What other suggestions do you have?

Rinse and repeat.

You can do this formally or informally (think about getting instant feedback at the end of a meeting on how productive it was, how well you chaired it, etc. etc.).  The key is to do it every day.

Don’t let Charlie Sheenitis derail your career.  Get inoculated through the power of feedback.

Happy leading!


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