As you can see from the changes I am slowly making here, on my facebook page and twitter account, I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week pondering the power of words… I recently read a newspaper article that deemed highly narcissistic leaders as less successful than their more humble counterparts when business conditions are tough. Although I question the research methodology of the study (cross referencing language used against company results) I also question the value of the study. I sense the axe coming out to chop down some of those tall poppies. I believe there’s a place for some degree of narcissism in the workplace – not in the extreme, but certainly it helps when times are challenging. Even more frightening is to use these findings to advise small business owners about appropriate workplace behaviour. How dangerous!
When times are tough in small business, let’s hope that the business owner has some degree of narcissism in them because this is what will help them to survive this period. Culturally, there is no escaping the supposed link between business failure and personal failure. This needs to change, but until we make it happen, our small business owners need to have enough self-love to be able to survive tough trading times. It’s leaders with high positive self-regard that go on to other ventures, that are able to pick themselves up and try again. It’s time to put the value of narcissism in context because sometimes we need it to continue. At business school our graduates need to learn that it’s ok to love yourself because you’ll need that more than reading a spread sheet when times are tough.
The second thing that grabbed me this week was the launch of the Ban Bossy campaign spearheaded by Beyonce and co. I think this is one of the most confusing campaigns I have seen in a long time. Yes, the message that women can do anything they set out to do and they are equals among men is fantastic, but to encourage them to be offended by a word...what message is that sending? There’s no need to ban bossy – there’s only a need to know that if you love yourself enough no words are important.
There is no arguing that the prevelance of bullying behaviour today (especially cyber-bullying) has given words more power than ever before, however, has this come at the cost of our own little dose of narcissism? As a society, have we become afraid of words? Our youngest boy was asked to discuss in class the phrase “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”. He was the only person in his class to agree with the statement and he used the premise that nobody knows him as well as he knows himself. He’s been fortunate to not have his position challenged by the actions of a bully, and I hope he can remember these thoughts if it is ever tested by another. The phrase was a segway into an important discussion about the dangers of bullying at school, and there is no doubt this is a very important topic to share with children of all ages, but does it include the value of self-love in the equation?
If we think more of ourselves, doesn’t that mean we lose less of our power to our detractors? I’m working on this in the hope I can role model it for my children (I’m still learning!). The more we like ourselves the stronger we are likely to become when in the company of others. So instead of telling women (and men) to shy away from words let’s spend more time helping them to protect themselves in a shield of self-love and unconditional acceptance. That’s a campaign I’d like to see.