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The Leader's need for healthy Self-Esteem

A Leader who manages with head and heart needs healthy Self Esteem. Ordinary organizations are transformed into extraordinary organizations by special people- leaders who know themselves and manage with both head and heart. These leaders know it is important to engage, energize and involve people about their work. Sometimes You need to lighten up and have some fun . We can’t merely employ someone’s hands and tell them to leave their hearts, minds and spirits at home. Today’s workers are looking for many things in an employment relationship. They want a meaningful partnership with their workplaces. Workplaces that provide meaning and purpose and are fun, engaging, and energizing will enjoy greater retention, higher productivity and lower turnover.

Remember Abraham Maslow? His well-known hierarchy of needs theory said all people strive for self-actualization, which is the need for innovation and creativity. When people can reach this higher level on the job they gain greater personal fulfilment, which improves job satisfaction. Yes, you still have to pay well, but an organization can create an energized, "higher calling" environment will have higher retention and greater productivity. All this needs leaders who have a healthy self esteem which helps them in turn to act with confidence and create an atmosphere that is more conducive for people to work in. A fundamental truth about self-esteem is that it needs to come from within. When self-esteem is low, the deficiency creates a feeling of emptiness which you may try to fill by latching on – often compulsively – to something external that provides a temporary sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. When the quest to fill your inner emptiness by appropriating something from outside becomes desperate, repetitive, or automatic, you have what is called an addiction. Self-esteem is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that implies that you accept, respect, trust, and believe in yourself. When you accept yourself, you can live comfortably with both your personal strengths and weaknesses without undue self-criticism. When you respect yourself, you acknowledge your own dignity and value as a unique human being. You treat yourself well in much the same way you would treat someone else you respect.

Self-trust means that your behaviors and feelings are consistent enough to give you an inner sense of continuity and coherence despite changes and challenges in your external circumstances. To believe in yourself means that you feel you deserve to have the good things in life. It also means that you have confidence that you can fulfil your deepest personal needs, aspirations, and goals. This attitude will reflect in your respect for others which in turn energizes the organization and its people. What are your basic needs Basic human needs conjures an association with shelter, clothing food water, sleep, oxygen and so on – in other words, what human beings require for their physical survival. It was not until the last few decades that higher – order psychological needs were identified. While not necessary for survival, meeting these needs is essential to your emotional well-being and a satisfying adjustment to life.

The psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed five levels of human needs, with three levels beyond primary concerns for survival and security. He arranged these levels into a hierarchy, as follows : Self-Actualization Needs (fulfillment of your potential in life, wholeness) Esteem Needs (self-respect, mastery, a sense of accomplishment) Belongingness and Love Needs (support and affection from others, intimacy, a sense of belonging) Safety Needs (shelter, stable, environment) Physiological Needs (food, water, sleep, oxygen) In Maslow’s scheme, taking care of higher – level needs is dependent on having satisfied lower-level needs. It’s difficult to satisfy belongingness and esteem needs if you’re starving. On a subtler level, it’s difficult to fulfill your full potential if you’re feeling isolated and alienated for lack of having met needs for love and belongingness. Writing in the sixties, Maslow estimated that the average person satisfied perhaps 90 percent of physiological needs, 70 percent of safety needs, 50 percent of love needs, 40 percent of esteem needs, and 10 percent of the need for self-actualization. Although Maslow defined esteem narrowly in terms of a sense of accomplishment and mastery, I believe that self-esteem is dependent on recognizing and taking care of all of your needs

What are some of the childhood circumstances that may have lead you to grow up with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy ?

1.Overly Critical Parents Parents who were constantly critical or set impossibly high standards of behavior may have left you feeling guilty, that somehow you could “never be good enough”. As an adult, you will continue to strive for perfection to overcome a long-standing sense of inferiority. You may also have a strong tendency toward self-criticism.

2.Significant Childhood Loss If you were separated from a parent as a result of death or divorce, you may have been left feeling abandoned. You may have grown up with a sense of emptiness and insecurity inside that can be re-stimulated very intensely by losses of significant people in your adult life. As an adult, you may seek to overcome old feelings of abandonment by over dependency on a particular person or other addictions to food, drugs, work or whatever works to cover the pain.

3. Parental Abuse Physical and sexual abuse are extreme forms of deprivation. They may leave you with a complex mix of feelings, including inadequacy, insecurity, lack of trust, guilt and / or rage. Adults who were physically abused as children may become perpetual victims or may themselves develop a hostile posture toward life, victimizing others. Adults – especially men – who were sexually abused as children sometimes express their rage by turning to rape and abuse as adults. Or they may turn that rage inward in deep feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy. Survivors of abusive childhood often, and understandably, have difficulty with intimate relationships in their adult lives. While less flagrant, constant verbal abuse can have equally damaging Effects.

4. Parental Alcoholism or Drug Abuse Much has been written in recent years on the effects of parental alcoholism on children. Chronic drinking or substance abuse creates a chaotic, unreliable family atmosphere in which it is difficult for a child to develop a basic sense of trust or security.

5. Parental neglect Some parents, because they are preoccupied with themselves, their work, or other concerns, simply fail to give their children adequate attention and nurturing. Children left to their own devices often grow up feeling insecure, worthless, and lonely. As adults, they may have a tendency to discount or neglect their own needs.

6. Parental Over protectiveness The child who is overprotected may never learn to trust the world outside of the immediate family and risk independence. As an adult, such a person may feel very insecure and afraid to venture far from a safe person or place. Through learning to acknowledge and care for their own needs, overprotected individuals can gain the confidence to make a life of their own and discover that the world is not such a dangerous place. You may initially find it difficult to acknowledge problems in your past. Our memory of childhood is often hazy and indistinct – especially when we do not want to recall what actually happened. The point of remembering and acknowledging what happened to you as a child is not so that you can blame your parents. Most likely, your parents did the best they could with their available personal resources, which may have been severely limited as a result of deprivations they experienced with their parents. The purpose of remembering your past is to release it and rebuild your present. Old “tapes” or patterns based on fear, guilt or anger will tend to interfere with your present life and relationships until you can identify and release them. Once your acknowledge and ultimately forgive your parents for what they were unable to give you, you can truly begin the journey of learning to care for yourself. In essence, this means becoming a healthier person which in turn helps you ultimately to end up as a better leader as well. Taking care of yourself Taking care of yourself is the foundation on which all other pathways to self-esteem rest. Without a basic willingness and ability to care for, love, and nurture yourself, it is difficult to achieve a deep or lasting experience of self-worth. Perhaps you had the good fortune to receive the love, acceptance, and nurturing from your parents that could provide you with a solid foundation for self-esteem as an adult. Presently you are free of any deep-seated feelings of insecurity and your path to self-esteem is likely to be simple and short involving certain changes in attitude, habits, and beliefs.

What are three important ways in which you can learn to take better care of yourself :

1. Acknowledging and meeting your basic needs. 2. Discovering and cultivating a relationship with your inner child. 3. Making time for small acts of self-nurturing on a daily basis.- After all work is fun !! Some suggested Self-Nurturing Activities The following list has been very helpful to many of my clients who suffer from anxiety disorders or depression. By performing at least one or two items from the list every day, or anything else you find pleasurable, you will grow in the important skill of becoming a good person yourself. You have nothing to lose but your sense of insecurity and inadequacy – nothing to gain except increased self-esteem. 1. Buy yourself a rose 2. Take a bubble bath 3. Go to a pet store and play with the animals 4. Walk on a scenic path in a park 5. Visit a zoo 6. Have a manicure or pedicure 7. Stop and smell some flowers 8. Wake up early and watch the sunrise 9. Watch the sunset 10. Relax with a good book and / or soothing music 11. Go rent a funny video 12. Play your favourite music and dance to it by yourself 13. Go to bed early 14. Sleep outside under the stars 15. Take a “mental health day off” from work 16. Go for a walk 17. Call a good friend – or several good friends 18. Go out to a fine restaurant just with yourself 19. Go to the beach 20. Take a scenic drive 21. Meditate 22. Buy new clothes 23. Browse in a book or record store for as long as you want 24. Buy yourself something special that you can afford 25. Go see a good film or show 26. Go to the park and feed the ducks, swing on the swings, and so on. 27. Visit a museum or another interesting place 28. Give yourself more time than you need to accomplish whatever you’re doing (let yourself dawdle) 29. Work on your favourite puzzle or puzzle book. 30. Write out an ideal scenario concerning a goal, then visualize it 31. Read an inspirational book 32. Write a letter to an old friend 33. Go window shopping 34. Listen to a positive, motivational tape 35. Write in a special diary about your accomplishments 36. Exercise We must begin to realize that mere competence is not good enough in leaders.

There are many other dimensions to make them more whole , and today’s findings in Behavioural sciences has much to offer in making you that winning leader.

Author : Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe

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