Those at the top of the management food chain are usually admired. We look at them as high achievers, people who are extremely intelligent and hardworking. But for those who are working below such people, a feeling of resentment can also pop up and cause gridlock in the entire organization. Those in top management positions often face resentment when they’re arrogant about their achievements. Hubris is the slow killer of any great organization, no matter how successful or profitable a company might be.
But there is a solution and it involves failure. Research from Harvard University shows that management can gain respect and admiration from colleagues by simply sharing the times that they have not been so successful.
“If you’re highly successful, your achievements are obvious. It’s more novel and inspiring for others to learn about your mistakes,” says Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Alison Wood Brooks in an article in Forbes magazine. “What’s exciting about this research is that we’re trying to chip away at the resentment that comes with envy and move people toward admiration instead. One way to do that is to acknowledge your struggles or shortcomings.”
Now, this is easier said than done because nobody wants to talk about themselves in a way that shows off their weaknesses. It can be humiliating and embarrassing. But that is exactly the reason why it is so successful. Everyone has been embarrassed at some point in their lives. When those experiences are shared, a connection is made. Colleagues will feel more comfortable around you. They will also view you as more approachable.
When this happens, then the doors to collaboration and creativity open. Contrary to popular belief, revealing failures does not diminish a person’s status among colleagues. Actually, the opposite happens – co-workers’ admiration increases, according to the study.
Instead of feeling jealous and resentful, employees want to learn from managers who have failed and then ultimately succeeded. This shows the employees that they too can reach higher levels of success even if they have had missteps in the past.
While it is good to celebrate success, there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. People are repelled by arrogance because egotistical beings are not approachable or, frankly, liked very much.
Sharing failures show humility and heart. It demonstrates that you acknowledge that you are a human being – one that is not guided by ego.