Want to be a leader? Hold onto your self-esteem

Read on: Guest post from Edward Caulfield from Serious About Service.
Thank you Edward for your contribution.

If you were to make a short list of the most significant business and political leaders of your life, who would it include?  Would it be something like – Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Jack Welch, Ronald Reagan, George Patton?

Each of these individuals is unique in his own right.   What runs common through them is best illustrated by the title of a book by Mike Wilson – “The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison”.

Leaders must have a strong sense of self and others

In any culture, self esteem is the singularly most consistently present personal attribute of individuals of achievement and leadership.  While self esteem alone is not what makes people successful, it is the most essential of all ingredients that make everything else possible.

Why is self esteem so critical?  The answer is quite simple.  Leadership can be summarized to getting others to execute on your vision.  If you don’t have sufficient belief in yourself and your vision, you’ll be challenged to get anybody else to jump on your bandwagon.

What does this have to do with Customer Service?

Let me suggest that you do the following.  Create a list of 50 business or political leaders who you feel have made a significant difference in their environment.  Once you have that list, put a check mark by those who rose to their position through a career in Customer Service.  If you are like most people, there won’t be many check marks on that list.  That means that almost nobody of any significance has come from a strong Customer Service background.  Ouch!! If you’re in Customer Service, that really hurts!!

Am I saying that a career in Customer Service will never lead to a CEO title?  “Never” is a bit too strong of a word.  Let’s just say “seldom” and leave it at that.  And considering that the majority of the individuals who have strong backgrounds in Customer Service don’t really fancy the title of a CEO anyway, this really doesn’t matter.

What does matter, however, are the personal consequences to low self esteem.  Aside from a simply bad feeling about one’s self, our mental health community has catalogued a small list of negative side effects:

  • crime and delinquency
  • racial prejudice
  • abuse of illegal drugs
  • alcohol abuse
  • child maltreatment
  • educational underachievement
  • chronic dependency on state support
  • eating disorders
  • suicide and suicide attempts

taken from “Self-esteem, The costs and causes of low self-worth

While any individual may be hit by any number of negative aspects, to whatever degree, a low self esteem is destructive to long term personal happiness.

The good news is that there are so many people who have to deal with low self esteem as one of their life’s issues, and the result is a plethora of resources to address the situation.  Type “self esteem test” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find page after page of tests that you can take immediately to get a general barometer of your self esteem.  Type “dangers of low self esteem” and you’ll see numerous sites that will be happy to tell you how low self esteem can damage you and your children.  Type “Combating low self esteem”, or any variation thereof, and you will find web sites, books and communities dedicated to helping you overcome a low self esteem.

So – if you are in Customer Service and have been there for more than 5 years, you owe it to yourself to, at the very least, take a 10 minute test and contemplate the results.  Worst case is that you’ll find that you have no issue to deal with and consider this article to be a stream of nonsense.  Best case is that you’ll discover you’ve got some work to do and get on with it.  For those who experience the latter, I wish you luck and say with confidence and experience that life can be better!  The most painful thing about dealing with low self esteem is to look back after years of effort and see how much you needlessly suffered and how easy it really is to change your life for good.

Edward Caulfield
Serious About Service

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