Make Yourself

The Art Of Appreciation

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Victimhood Starts With Low Appreciation Of Self And Others

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

I've written often about the primary "need" expressed by most of my clients - the need (or desire) to increase their inspirational leadership. I've also written a good deal about the two basic types of people out there - the Entrepreneur, and the Victim. It turns out the two concepts are linked. It's all about appreciation of yourself and of others.

After years of coaching and counseling some of the brightest leaders (and emerging leaders) in today's business world, I've written a guide to practical empathy called "Feelings For Thinkers." So far, I've shared the bulk of the content only with my clients. One of the key pieces in the book is a discussion of what makes the difference between leaning toward your "inner Entrepreneur" or your "inner Victim," and the two attitudinal types differ primarily in their developed ability to properly appreciate themselves and others.

As I've mentioned in previous pieces, I would not suggest that a leader abandon critical reason (or the ability to be critical of work products) in their effort to become more inspirational. Inspiring someone doesn't mean coddling them. But frankly, most of my smart clients lean too much on their thinking and not enough on their emotional ability, and therefore develop what I teasingly refer to as "Empathy Deficiency Syndrome." The best leaders are able to be appropriately critical of work products without coming across as being critical of people and their efforts.


The two dimensions of self-appreciation and appreciation of others divide leaders into four basic camps. A person high on self-appreciation and low on appreciation of others tends to come across as the "Arrogant Boss," and that person's primary visible attitude is one of entitlement. The opposite type - high on others but low on herself - comes across as the "Humble Servant," with a primary visible attitude of obligation. The first seems to believe his teammates don't deserve their positions; the latter, that she doesn't deserve hers. Neither is an effective style for inspirational leadership.

Both, though, are better than the "Apathetic Victim," who is low on appreciation of both self and others. Toward himself, such a "leader" has an attitude of concealment - he doesn't share much of himself because he doesn't want to be "found out." Toward others, he's always critical, usually overly-so. And in general, this political creature is competitive everything is win-lose, or more commonly, lose-lose.

Obviously, the most inspirational leaders are high on both self-appreciation and appreciation of others. They're optimistic, roll-up-your-sleeves doers. Such a person has a courageous attitude toward self-discovery, a curiosity about other people (not just their problems, or what they can offer her), and in general, she has a collaborative spirit. She's likely to have an entrepreneurial bent, and she's likely to be both inspired and inspiring.

In this age, when a business owner or leader must rely less than his forebears did upon command-and-control authority, inspirational leadership is key. The winners in the coming years will be the leaders who are skilled not just in critical thinking, but in empathy and inspiration. And good news: these are skills that can be developed, especially with the help of a great coach. Give me a call!


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