Long Noses Build Big Barriers
Brain power, skills, and success beckon leaders to believe they are better than others when they aren’t. The most repulsive lie leaders believe about themselves is the long-nose-lie, “I’m better than.”
Everyone sees the long nose you look down. The insecure feel inferior around your long nose while climbers grovel for its approval. In either case, people can’t take their eyes off it’s disgusting length.
Long nose leaders:
- Enjoy flattery.
- Prefer control to empowerment
- Treat employees like things.
- Never eat in the cafeteria.
- Don’t know employee names.
- View people as disruptions.
- Believe fear and distance motivates.
How noses grow:
Confusion between performance and being human grows long noses. One success following another landed you in leadership. Sadly, success shrunk your brain and grew your nose. Your tiny head became filled with small thinking exaggerating your huge proboscis. You forgot that everyone in the world is essentially the same. We all want to:
- Feel respect.
- Love and be loved.
- Engage in meaningful work.
- Control our environments.
- Feel secure.
You may have performed better than others in your context but behind your shrinking head and growing nose, you developed amnesia. Your long nose indicates you forgot your own humanity. Your long nose reflects a barrier that obscures universal human need and feeds emptiness.
Led by long noses:
Once a nose gets long it’s hard to shrink it. But, big heads make long noses look small. Grow your brain by changing your thinking. The simple solution to the long-nose-lie is giving people exactly what you want them to give you. For example, give the respect you demand for yourself to others. Surprisingly, your long nose may point the way.
How do leaders overtly or subtly let others know they believe they are better than others?
What needs do long noses have that reflect universal human need?
Have you seen someone escape the long-nose-lie, once they believed it?
three questions three responses:
1. Cynicism / putting down
3. Yes, many. They just need to look at themselves. I always feel a person is evident in their readiness to learn or not. If they are ready to learn, this is an easy and rewarding lesson. if they are not ready they will keep looking at themselves and only see what they have always seen – not much! – but lie to themsleves it is plenty.
Thanks for staring us off today.
Put downs are interesting…on one hand my friends and I put each other down as humor…I think the more distance in position/rank between people the more dangerous put downs are.
You have my best,
Some will read this and get a chiropractic pop; I did. Thanks for shooting straight Dan.
I am the first audience…I got a few pops of my own before I clicked publish.
Great article Dan, Thank you
For questions’ answers,
1- i think you say it all … they don’t look to others as humans to grow and learn, but as idiots
2- Confidence & Security
3- None unfortunately
Best to you,
Great seeing you. I hope you are well. It seems there is turmoil in your area of the world.
Thanks, I am fine 🙂
Hope things will be fine for all …
I think I am lucky that over the years I have not worked with very many people that truly believed that they were better than others. However, I have worked with people who sometimes appeared that they did. These are people who desperately want to be respected. Some of them are highly competitive individuals who believe that the only way to be respected is to be seen as the winner or the best at something. These people tend to go around puffing themselves up and putting others down in the hopes that others will see them as the best and will give them the respect they crave. Others want to be respected but they also want to be liked. They don’t have the skills to make the personal connections with people necessary for genuine mutual respect and friendship. They think people will like and respect them if they are successful. These people will also spend a great deal of time talking about their accomplishments in the hope that they will be admired and thereby liked and respected by others. If caught early many of these people can be taught to get the love and respect they want by making real connections with others. I fear that many who don’t make that change become leaders that are afraid to get to know staff because of the fear that they will be outshone or passed up. Leaders so busy guarding the position they made, they are unable to connect with employees any more. Leaders who eventually drive away the best employees and future leaders due to fear of failure and rejection.
Bonnie, great point about competition. Competitors have scarcity mentalities (there isn’t enough for all of us) and believe that for them to move up, they have to push others down. If you have an abundance mentality (there is enough for all, a rising tide floats every boat) then you soon realize that interdependence accomplishes far more than independence. Thanks for the reminder.
I agree with Greg. Good call on bringing competition to the conversation.
Some how we must balance the desire for personal success with helping others succeed.
The walls we build do more than protect us. They may destroy too.
Dan, you don’t pull any punches, which is good. You have to get through our thick heads.
Forget where I read it, but someone once said, “The mark of a man is how he treats people he can’t use to his own ends.” In your terms, the long-nose would treat those he can use arrogantly and those he can’t dismissively, in both cases de-valuing and disrespecting them.
Your question about what the long-noses need is extremely interesting, because I think most of those things (recognition, self-worth, influence, admiration) are actually the same things that we noted servant leaders attain (your blog a few days ago).
To me, the best antidote is a reminder that every step up the ladder came simply because a group of people did good work that the leader was recognized for. Without the team, no leader succeeds.
I don’t pull punches because I look at the darkness in my own heart.
“The mark of a man is how he treats people he can’t use to his own ends.” — Dang that stings.
de-value and disrespect… thanks for some great terms. They go together well.
I read the importance of gratitude in your last paragraph. Gratitude is another shortener of long noses. Good call.
PS… I think I better lighten up tomorrow. 🙂
Don’t ever go easy on us, Dan. We won’t grow that way.
Sometimes we climb the ladder, other times we hold the ladder so that others may climb–if we do both with grace and gratitude, we are the better for it.
Nice comment docdisc;
“if we do both with grace and gratitude, we are the better for it.”
I really love your illustration using the ladder.
If the end goal is both about productivity and enjoying the journey (which I believe both can coexist) then even a long-nosed leader should come to grips with shifting their focus for the greater good. Transformational leaders have “individualized consideration”… meaning they realize every person is not just a cog within the machine. Each person is an individual (human) with value and purpose. And the achievements that have occurred are never the result of one person, it takes a team to move anywhere (practical thought process to reduce nose size).
I think what Dan focuses on here is an important point. Not only does the leader over emphasize themselves and their own value, they limit the value in others because they live on the wave of what has already occurred rather than training and prepping for what is to come. Typically this leads to lower performance and lower productivity. The personal limitation not only holds them back, the organization suffers as well.
So even if a long-nosed individual doesn’t want to change because of personal need/insecurity, they should see the logical need to shift and become transformational for greater results to occur. But that is a logical train of thought…
Past successes have a shelf life. Leaders I have seen who suffer from this typically can change after a crisis wakes them up. Usually an event or moment occurs that is the smelling salt of life – then the nose magically shrinks and reality sets in.
“Past successes have a shelf life”-excellent David! And it could be with increasing information converted to knowledge (and hopefully some wisdom), that shelf life gets shorter and shorter.
I like it, Dan. Onre of the ways these people demostrate their perceived superiority is by stringing people along. They make promises of promotion or new projects that never seem to materialize.
Yes, they lie, and all too often they get away with it, which is very discouraging for the team members. They are ultimately not good team members. Their behavior tends to be disruptive to everyone except themselves.
They fail to understand that past successes will not sustain them. One of their most annoying habits is remindind everyone of the past life of their glory days, while contributing little to the present.
Their brains do indeed shrink, as does their vision. The only person they can see clearly in the mirror and in the future is themselves.
Good post, as always Dan.
Great analogy this morning, Dan! I hadn’t heard of the long-nose-philosophy until now…. and I am trying to envision a person with the big head and long nose!
Good post with interesting analysis & interpretation. Position-conscious leaders usually develop long noses and would
like to grow fast at any cost! They misuse their powers with humiliation, thinking that money can buy anything and exploit people to achieve their personal goals. They assume that all people around them are dumb and unproductive unless they are put under undue pressure.
Top management should have a sharp eye on such leaders and should keep them under check. Otherwise, more damages are likely to happen leading to greater attrition rate and unsatisfied staff.
Another important question can be ‘who will point out about long noses’ and ‘what are the corrective steps’. Self- introspection is quite difficult unless such leaders face debacles with their leadership style or are under close scrutiny of the top management.
It’s quite true that big heads make long noses look small. Grow your brain by changing your thinking and learn on humanity with motivational team approach.
I have struggled with a form of this throughout my career. I remember once having a meeting with staff, trying to iron out work schedules. One of the staff members was scheduled to (as a friend) take my daughter to her swimming lesson after work because I had another commitment. This would have involved her leaving earlier than the new guidelines we have just agreed to.
I literally remember saying, “Okay we all agreed to this but can ‘Jane’ still take my daughter swimming”? I don’t know if this telling of the anecdote really gets at the fact that I expected special treatment because of being the supervisor, because of having come into the organization being told “it’s a great place to work and have kids,” because I wanted what I wanted and knew people would feel pressured to do what I asked.
I might have achieved the same ends by communicating differently about it —- or by sucking it up and respecting the rules I had just laid down.
Sounds like we are all feeling a lot of chiropractic “pops” today!
You know Dan, when I went through the characteristics of the long nose leader, a number of faces appeared before me. Then I thought about changing these folks. Unlikely to happen. As such, the value of this post and much of your other wisdom is to influence those whose noses have yet to grow. And by the way, you’re doing a vdamn good job of that.
John, I reluctantly agree with your pessimism about most of these leaders changing, because change only comes if you recognize the need and then want to.
I see Dan is again holding up a mirror for us all to consider rhinoplasty…not cosmetic either. 😉
Like grains of sand, leadership is handed to leaders by others.
Earned or not, does not matter.
How the sand is held is the key. Too tightly and it slip through the fingers gradually, too loosely and it slips away quickly, shared and it lasts much longer until it can be handed on to the next leader. And sticking your head and long nose in the sand may feel good temporarily, however you will miss so many opportunities and eventually have to come up for air as you sputter the sand away.
Doc, I love the sand analogy – I can see some knowledge and responsibility transfers happening a grain at a time and others faster, but the steady flow of the hour-glass connotes steady, persistent progress. Brilliant.
Another excellent post Dan. Thanks. The old saying, “There is no I in TEAM” applies here. Somehow, when (most) leaders get to the top, they think they are better than their employees. It does come across very ugly. It is all EGO, in my opinion. When ego takes over, we become “Apart from” not “A Part of” which is where we need to be.
It is a WE thing not a ME thing. Once they get to this point, it is hard to overcome. They must practice new principles and form new habits. CARE about others. Every day. Thanks for the reminder.
Love the Pinocchio approach to lying to oneself. I have seen this happen in a company that has taken off with amazing growth. It seems to try and separate the masses and instead of working for one vision it divides almost like society has with the low class, middle class, and higher class. It is amazing gift those who can look at others and remember just the fundamentals of love, respect, and etc.
I loved your quote “But, big heads make long noses look small.” It ties in nice with your previous post about knowing it all. A big nose and big head are a nasty combination for a leader. Here are my responses to your questions
1. privilege – the more entitlement and privilege a leader seeks the bigger the nose grows.
3. Yes – Actually did you catch the latest undercover boss episode where the dictator manager was using his long nose to the undercover CEO? The response by the CEO was perfect and the look of the manager’s face showed his nose shrink instantly.
I wonder if the problem is not the problem. If an organization allows a “leader” to obtain such a position based on “ego” as opposed to servant leadership criteria – being of service to the organization and the people, then we should look into the structure that allowed the egotistical leader to lead shouldn’t we?