Want Better Work? Rid Your Team of Selfishness

Don't Let Self-Deception Stand in Your Way

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Trust is a key factor in doing great work. The agency team must trust one another and the client must trust the agency. Something so fundamental to success should obviously be a priority for an agency. So why is it that most agencies struggle with this tenet? I'm going to suggest a reason bluntly: selfishness.

This isn't as evil as it sounds. There is nothing wrong with pursuing one's own desires, but if we do so with disregard to everyone else's desires, we will fail to offer the level of work a client deserves. Add to that demoralized employees and a dysfunctional process and you have three things that will sink your agency as fast as a torpedo sank the Lusitania.

My partner, Steve McKee, wrote a book called, "When Growth Stalls: How It Happens, Why You're Stuck, and What to Do About It." One of the indicators of why a company stalls is a lack of consensus. At the root of a lack of consensus is selfishness. It is the attitude summed up as "What I want is more important than what you want." The sad truth is that neither of the opposing views will get their desire if they cannot come to a consensus.

"Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box" by Arbinger Institute is one of the best self-help business books I've ever read. It wasn't enjoyable at first because it revealed to me that I had "self-deceived" too many times. Fortunately, I didn't feel like a total loser because the book also reveals that every person does this at some point daily. By keeping self-deception to a minimum, each team member can see to self-interest without being selfish. It isn't filled with psychobabble, but common sense written in the form of a novel. So it's an easy and quick read.

Like all things that lead to a company's success, getting "out of the box" must begin at the top. So if you're an agency owner, read the book and then pass it on to your partners. After you've all gotten out of your boxes, share it with every employee.

Getting out of the box not only helps you succeed, it helps you like who you are in the process. /p>

Bart Cleveland is partner, creative director, McKee Wallwork Cleveland, Albuquerque, N.M.
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