By Urs Koenig, PhD, MBA, Leadership Keynote Speaker
Do you want your company’s staff (and your children) to be highly successful?
Bet your answer is “Yes, of course!”
Who knew it was actually so easy 🙂 Simply instill these traits in your employees and children:
- A Complex of Superiority: Make them believe they are exceptional.
- Insecurity: Help them see that what they do is inadequate.
- Impulse Control: Help them learn to not seek instant gratification.
It’s weird to think people can feel insecure and superior at the same time. But, it is this contradiction that initiates drive, according to two Yale professors. Their book “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America” explains the success-winning blend of a desire to validate yourself and the sacrifice of instant gratification.
The recently New York Times featured pair, Chue & Rebenfeld found an un-American aspect of America today: the dream of upward mobility for Americans is more real for certain people groups than others. Some groups include Chinese, Iranians, Indian Americans, and Lebanese. They all earn close to double the average American income.
Amidst religious groups, Mormons success in America’s corporate sector is thoroughly documented. Jewish people compose approximately two percent of America’s population of adults. Yet, they compose around one third of Supreme Court’s current members and one third of Nobel Prize recipients from America.
Simply saying that certain people groups perform better, measured through test scores and income, can spark accusations bigotry or racism. It can be almost too evident to claim, but these ideas do not make any specific group ‘superior’ or ‘better’ than the others, and success based in material wealth is not equivalent to a well-lived life.
People groups become successful and unsuccessful in their time. This helps direct attention to the idea that there are forces of culture working in this social movement, and disproves the concept of innate differences in biology that promote succession. (e.g. Caucasian children and children of Chinese descent perform equally well in the classroom environment).
When isolated, every trait is inadequate, and has potential to create damage. A complex of superiority can often lead to being complacent and arrogant, which might be crippling. Impulse control alone can often result in the inability to feel pleasure.
Success is driven by the three traits, impulse control, insecurity, and a complex of superiority. These qualities are learnable, and therefore open to be utilized by anyone. We can teach and exhibit them in our family and business.
Personally, I have seen how the world’s premier management consulting practices like BCG, Bain, McKinsey et al. do amazing work in cultivating these qualities. These practices pride themselves over hiring the best students from top business schools. Once hired, these students belong to a ‘select few’. There is no doubt that these practices employ bright people, yet many consultants I meet have deep seated insecurities on whether they are good enough, which helps them work harder.
1. A Complex of Superiority
- Which metaphors and stories do you use to help instill the idea of exceptionality in your employees and family members?
- How could you ensure that your coworkers, employees, and family believe they are one of the ‘select few’? A part of the superior elite?
- What customs are you implementing to support the idea that your company is going to be successful and beat the competition?
- How are you fostering a culture of dissatisfaction, that good enough is not enough, in your company and family?
- How can you help your employees and family to endlessly strive for improvement?
- What stories do you share to clarify the culture of never being satisfied?
3. Impulse control
- What incentives and systems do you use to help people stay committed?
- How can you make sure that your employees and family become exemplars of your vision and culture?
And don’t forget: The most powerful thing is to model the behavior you expect from others!