Don’t believe your own hype

Posted March 17, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

Canadian actor Corey Haim was found dead in his low rent LA apartment last week.  Sad news for sure and immediately fingers get pointed at the Hollywood machine for abandoning the former child star.  Haim is certainly a tragic figure and there’s something to be said for what happens when success and power come before you know how to handle it.  But within this mess is a real-life lesson for star performers everywhere.

One of the things you often hear famous people talk about is the number of new “friends” they seem to cultivate once they increase their star power. I’ve noticed that the same can be said for leaders who find themselves in particularly “high influence” leadership roles.

Suddenly, you become the person that everyone’s trying to schmooze.  If you’re heading up any team that makes big purchase decisions, chances are you have vendors who are treating you like long-lost cousins.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in HR, finance, IT, marketing… these new buddies will be everywhere.  And, if you’re running an organization that has multiple interests, watch out.  You’ll have people fighting to get a slice of your time.  It’s easy to get used to all the fawning and attention and start to believe that you really are THAT important.

But here’s the thing… no matter how “buddy buddy” these people are with you, remember… there’s a business context to the relationship and, for some – not all – but some of these people, rapport building and making you feel like King or Queen of the world is just part of their plan.

Anyone who has experienced losing a power position job knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Once you’re out of the “power seat”, it’s amazing how few people return your calls.  Sure, you get a lot of empty “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” platitudes, but little action.

And, if you have taken your own ‘fame’ too seriously, you may experience a very real form of rejection when the lunchtime offers stop happening.  Don’t set yourself up for this letdown.  Recognize that, for many of the people you encounter when you’re in a power seat, buttering you up is their job… pure and simple.  Sure, real friendships may emerge overtime, but if Bill starts avoiding your calls after you’ve quit your big CIO job, don’t let it undermine your confidence.  After all, it’s the position that really had the power… not you.

In the words of the Donald: it’s not personal… it’s just business.

Happy leading!

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