Terminate Those Who Take The Seat of Honor

July 13, 2018

The most dangerous people in your organization are those who take the seat of honor.  

 

What is the seat of honor? 

 

Physically, it may be the seat at the right hand of the boss at dinner.  Or, the front seat when four people walk out to the car.  It may be the head table at a wedding. Figuratively, it is to insist on being the only one to give a presentation, or a refusal of the input from others may also be stealing a seat of honor from a team.  Simply expecting others to do work you believe to be beneath you is stealing the seat of honor. 

 

Physically taking the seat of honor, sans an invitation, is the physical manifestation of pride.  An individual that sees themselves as more valuable, smarter, better, or useful than others is a danger to a team and a company.  If an individual displays this attitude through consistent and uncorrected actions, terminate them. 

 

"There are no little people." 

 

Everyone in an organization is of great value based on their humanity alone.  Our gifts, education, and experiences vary, but none of these should drive us to a feeling of superiority and worse, to act out our superiority. 

 

 

Between my freshman and sophomore years in college I spent a summer as a porter for an apartment complex near campus.  I arrived each morning and cleaned the pools, the toilets in the clubhouse and walked around with a pooper-scooper and picked up dog poo. I also scrubbed the curbs, fixed washing-machines, and made-ready apartments. 

 

Young professionals would walk out their doors in the morning and look at me with pity, if they were willing to look at me at all.  One afternoon the manager asked to walk the grounds with me to give direction on some projects.  She reached down and picked up some paper in a pool of algae, threw it in the dumpster and then proceeded to wipe her hand off on my shirt in dramatic fashion.  I never felt lower.  It was a life changing moment for me as I committed to never wipe my hands off on anyone literally or figuratively. 

 

"Our attitude toward all men should be that of equality because we are common creatures," writes author Francis Schaeffer in his book, No Little People. "We must be careful in our thinking not to try and stand in the place of God to other men."

 

  There should always be an attempt to correct the dangers of arrogance.   We must begin by assuming the individual has never encountered someone willing to confront them about their actions.  Maybe they grew up with the parents that told them they were special, or better than everyone else, or that they could do anything.  I like the way William Deresiewicz puts it in his book Excellent Sheep, 

 

"It's not your fault you grew up affluent and sheltered. But now you need to take responsibility for it. You can start by recognizing that you aren't in fact, more valuable than other people, no matter what you've always heard. Your pain does not hurt more. Your soul does not weigh more...God does not love you more."

 

Some people need to hear this.  Unfortunately, the message will not be received well by most, or they will be unable to process the rebuke due to years of brainwashing. I've spent more time than I should trying to encourage change in an individual team member to the detriment of the team.  Attempt to solve the issue, and if they don't get the message, terminate them quickly or your team will be in jeopardy. 

 

You will identify this pride fairly easily, and if not, a good team will be more than willing to inform you of what they find unacceptable behavior. 

 

Now let's put the pointer back on ourselves. 

 

As leaders we must resist our urges to take the glory from others.  We need to consistently shun the praise and the spotlight.  We must say our thanks if complimented and quickly redirect successes to others.  There will be moments we must be up front and lead, but when possible, we need to pass the mic at events, sit with the maintenance crew at parties, and take an interest in the receptionist's family.  We must be careful about the level we permit people to lift us too.  We must encourage and help others rise in their influence.  We must be mindful of what we need to let go. 

 

The Apostle Luke wrote about an event with Jesus in 58 AD.  He wrote,

 

"Then when Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. He said to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, because a person more distinguished than you may have been invited by your host.  So the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then, ashamed, you will begin to move to the least important place. But when you are invited, go and take the least important place, so that when your host approaches he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up here to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who share the meal with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

It's a great parable that has played out many times before us, and maybe to us. 

 

A friend introduced me today to the Catholic Litany of Humility.  As leaders we would do well to read it each morning so that we might properly approach our service to others.  It reads, 

 

Deliver me, 

From the desire of being esteemed,

From the desire of being loved...

From the desire of being extolled ...

From the desire of being honored ...

From the desire of being praised ...

From the desire of being preferred to others...

From the desire of being consulted ...

From the desire of being approved ...

From the fear of being humiliated ...

From the fear of being despised...

From the fear of suffering rebukes ...

From the fear of being calumniated ...

From the fear of being forgotten ...

From the fear of being ridiculed ...

From the fear of being wronged ...

From the fear of being suspected ...

 

That others may be loved more than I,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 

That others may be esteemed more than I ...

That, in the opinion of the world,

others may increase and I may decrease ...

That others may be chosen and I set aside ...

That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...

That others may be preferred to me in everything...

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

 

 

 

 

 

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