Saturday, December 29, 2007
Alain De Botton's Status Axiety caught my attention while I was browsing amazon.com this week. Though I have not yet ordered the book, I did spend some time skimming through reviews. Claiming to understand Botton's thesis would be dishonest (since I did not read the book), but the reviews (and the sometimes helpful wikipedia) suggest that status anxiety results from our desire to be well-perceived by others. Our democratic and capitalist society not only allows us to buy our identities via the products we consume, but it also exacerbates status anxiety.
The implications of status issues for leaders are tremendous, especially regarding motives. Pursuing a leadership position so that I can pursue excellence is very different from pursuing a leadership position to improve how others perceive me. Leading by pursuing excellence for its own sake ennobles me, but leading for the sake of other's approval makes me a sycophant.
Frankly, in my roles as husband, father, teacher, and servant leader I need to spend less time worrying about how others perceive me and instead whole-heartedly pursue excellence for its own sake.
IDEA LEADER: How does the pursuit of status motivate you?
Photo: Shyle Zacharias