In some deep recess inside, I am a biologist. It’s where I started my career, and it continues to be a part of my way of seeing the world. I watch a lot of nature shows, especially the ones with animals in them that we don’t normally get to see in our backyard. I find that if I stretch my thinking a bit, the world we live in could be seen a lot like the natural world where the stronger, bigger animals prey on the weaker, smaller ones.
In the corporate jungle, I occasionally meet the leader who sees themselves as the prey (victim) of a lot of things that they feel are “out there” and out of their control. They see those things as stronger and bigger than they are as a way of coping with something they don’t want to deal with (often for legitimate reasons!). Here are some of the things that might just keep you in a victim mindset:
- The boss who doesn’t see you as capable of doing great work
- The employees who aren’t performing up to your standards
- The colleague who is critical of your work and “just doesn’t get it”
- The organization that’s failing because they aren’t doing it the way you would
- The strategy that isn’t perfect
- The vision that is flawed
- The partner who doesn’t listen
- The children who are unruly
Do you see yourself in any of these? Perhaps there is something else out there that is getting in the way of your magnificence? What have you assumed is holding you back from being everything you could be? The list could go on, but all of these things (and anything else that you feel victimized by) are not the problem. The problem is that you have made a (perhaps almost unconscious) decision to be the victim.
Turn it around
What would you assume if you weren’t assuming those things I listed? Some examples:
- I will have a dialog with the boss and raise the bar on my performance based on his input
- I will roll up my shirtsleeves and coach the employees to perform better
- I will spend some time with that colleague to help them to understand my work
- I will speak up to the people responsible for the failure about other ways to do things
- I will provide input to change the strategy
- I will recreate the vision
- I will respectfully ask my partner to listen to me (and I can listen better to my partner as well)
- I will take a more active role in parenting my children to be better behaved
It’s up to you. Every day, you choose to be a victim or a leader. Take a hard look at yourself, and notice where you’ve placed blame. You can be the victim or you can take an active role in turning things around. You’ll be a better leader for it.