The art of benign selfishness

Pic from Internet

As the holiday season sets in and people sit down with their New Year resolution lists – another thought lurks behind the minds of many professional executives. It is that of Annual Performance Appraisals.

Most companies that follow a January to December management cycle start the exercise of next year’s goal setting and the previous year’s performance review after the holidays.

It is natural for people – be it a CEO or the junior most supervisor in the organisation – to be concerned about their own outcome first. With many companies moving towards a larger component of variable performance pay – there is, indeed, a lot at stake. In today’s high-risk, high rewards environment, CXO bonus pay-outs can clock upto several millions. So, the anxiety is understandable.

But, how do leaders balance self-interest with concern for the people working under them ?

It can start – with what one may call a principle of “benign selfishness”. While taking stock of one’s own achievements – it may be a good idea to think of how others have helped the individual to achieve her goals. So, while working on a self-evaluation – one can jot down the contribution of team members. It is would be useful to think of co-workers who made a critical difference and reflect upon the attributes or competencies they brought to the table to stand-out from the crowd.

Similarly, were there some who failed to measure up to the ‘ask’? What held them back — is it competencies that can be developed or they have already hit the circuit breaker. But, before reaching an opinion it is important to answer 2 questions honestly — 1) Am I trying to pass on responsibility for my own shortcoming? And, 2) Is there anything I could have done or still do to bring up the performance level of weak links in the chain?

These reflections will help not only in a balanced evaluation but also form the basis for a meaningful appraisal dialogue for both self (with his / her boss) and subordinates.

After all leadership is primarily about integrity. An enlightened boss will evaluate you not just by your own performance but also how you have helped your team deliver better than the best. Co-workers too will respect a boss who not only give them fair credit but also help them succeed.

The festive atmosphere of Christmas and New Year — is a good time to retrospect in a relaxed spirit and get ready for another great start.

Wish you the very best of everything in 2017.

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