Pride (pages 140-146)
Part One: Leadership Strategies, 3. Principles, E. Pride, (pages 140-146)
While pride can be seen as negative, it can be a powerful force for good. “Pride can tear apart individuals and teams, yet it can also be an aspirational influence that drives successful positive behavior”. Excessive pride can lead to arrogance in both individuals and teams. They feel that they are better than anyone else and that leads to training less, not working as hard, and eventually failing. “Their pride means they don’t respect the people they are competing against.” However, pride can be an extremely powerful asset, if it can be harnessed. “Pride can be the guiding, unseen force that keeps team members working hard, giving their best effort, and holding themselves and others on the team to the absolute highest standard.” Unit pride is observed within the military by the use of patches, banners, and songs all designed to increase unit pride. Unit pride is developed from past successes. The more team members work hard and experience success, their pride increases. Unit pride can also be witnessed in the sports and business worlds. Banners that display past successes are hung from the rafters at sporting venues. Additionally, positive articles and awards are displayed prominently on the walls of business offices. “When the past is held up and put on display in honor, it becomes the standard for all to pursue.” Ideally, each member strives for the highest standard and they hold each other accountable. “If there is pride, the team polices itself.” What if the team does not have pride? One of the most important jobs of the leader is to develop pride within their team. To develop pride, the leader needs to provide opportunities for the team members to earn it. “You have to put the members in situations that require unity, strength, and perseverance to get through.” It is the suffering that the team members endure together that builds pride. However, there is an equilibrium. If the team is worked too hard without success, they can break. Conversely, if the team succeeds without earning it, they can become arrogant and will eventually “slack off”. The balance is to let the team earn some wins. Pride is not built on easy wins. “Pride is an awesome force as long as it is balanced between humility and confidence. If you let it creep too far in either direction, it will become destructive. It is on you to build, maintain, and channel that force: pride.”
I have experienced many prideful events in my life including the birth of my twins, adopting my son, becoming a superintendent, and earning my Ph.D. However, the one event that most closely mirrors this chapter was my time spent at Fort Leonard Wood during basic training. It was the most intense 8 weeks of my life. During those eight weeks, we were broken down both mentally and physically until we stopped questioning and began doing. That was a pivotal moment for us as we then began to function as a team. Our company, D-3-3 had a reputation for always scoring the highest on the EOC test (end of cycle). The EOC test was a grueling 2-day event where each soldier needed to show proficiency on 30 tasks. We even had a banner that was proudly displayed on our guidon that showed D-3-3’s mastery of the EOC test. The drill sergeants worked us day and night on the 30 tasks. We eventually started helping each other when we saw someone struggle. We came together as a team. I scored a perfect 30 out of 30. More importantly, our company once again had the highest proficiency score. The smile on our drill sergeants faces when they announced that is an image I will not forget. It brought about pride in myself and pride for my teammates.