Throughout most of history, pride has gotten a bad reputation.
It’s one of the seven deadly sins in Catholic theology. Many religions caution against it, associating pride with arrogance and selfishness. Even the Dalai Lama says, “When you are full of pride, there is no way to be happy.”
Dr. Jessica Tracy works to change that image.
Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Sauder Distinguished Scholar and an Associate Editor at Affective Science, the author of “Take Pride” and “Pride – The Secret of Success,” she has studied the subject throughout her career and focused on harnessing the positive side of pride to help individuals – and their companies.
We were lucky to have Dr. Jessica Tracy as the guest at WorkProud’s monthly webinar on March 10. The entire recording is here:
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“I think the pride that religions talk about when they say it’s sinful is hubristic pride,” Dr. Tracy said. “I wouldn’t tell anyone to have hubristic pride. What I would tell people is that the pride that is sinful isn’t just pride; it is a specific form of pride.”
Key to understanding the concept, she said, is defining terms.
“Pride is two very different things,” she said. “In English, we use the same word, but other languages have two different words – one to represent achievement-oriented pride, which we coined authentic pride, and the other, which we call hubristic pride.”
“Hubristic pride is associated with a lot of psychological dysfunction,” Dr. Tracy said. “They’re more likely to be anxious and depressed, more likely to have problematic relationships. They tend to be narcissistic. They might be Machiavellian and aggressive, taking advantage of others. We have a paper showing they might be more willing to cheat or lie if doing so will get them status.”
Which is why we should strive for the other kind of pride.
“Authentic pride is associated with all kinds of positive outcomes,” she said, “in terms of success, social relationships, romantic relationships, positive personality traits like extroversion, conscientiousness, and hard work.”
“It motivates us to work hard, innovate and create – all the things that make us human. We have come to the place we are as a species on this planet because of pride.”
Dr. Tracy said, “Internally, it’s about feeling I’m the kind of person I can feel good about. We want to feel good about ourselves and have other people feel good about us. So go for authentic pride, and reap the benefits that come with that, from achievement to happiness to achievement to getting others’ respect for wisdom.”
Authentic pride extends beyond oneself to the wider community, whether it’s the place you live or the place you work. For example, Dr. Tracy said she sees and feels both first-hand when her hometown Vancouver Canucks hockey team has a good season or when her university wins accolades and honors.
“Just like you can feel pride in your sports team, you can feel pride in your company,” she said. “That kind of pride is essential if the goal is for that company to have employees invest in the company’s success rather than just their own success. To have a successful company, you need both.”
Even if people work hard and well, she said, it’s not enough if the goals are focused on the individual.
“If you have a company where everyone is out to see themselves succeed – ‘I want to be the best worker I can be’ – you’re not going to have people caring about the company’s success,” she said, “They’re going to choose themselves over the company.”
“What you really want are employees who feel pride in the company, like Vancouver people feel in the Canucks, because then they’re going to tie those two things together. Then they’re going to feel pride when they succeed, but also when their peers succeed.
“When the company has success, that’s not going to feel like it’s something that doesn’t matter to me, or not even because maybe I’ll get paid more, but that’s something that matters because that’s part of my identity.”
So how does the company make that happen?
“I don’t think it’s something that can be taken for granted,” Dr. Tracy said. “It has to be fostered and nurtured. I don’t think it’s fair to say, ‘Well, of course, you work for this company, so you’re going to feel pride in it.”
That’s not how it works.
“A lot has to do with feeling a connection and fostering that connection, things like feeling the company cares about them, wants them to do their best. That’s really important, feeling that the company is providing resources and team structure, whatever is needed for the employee to perform at a level that allows them to feel individual pride.”
The bottom line: “If you stay with authentic pride and don’t go to hubristic pride, that’s going to be the outcome.”
That’s the cue for WorkProud CEO Michael Levy, who hosts the monthly webinar and conducted the conversation about pride at work.
“We can help with that,” Mr. Levy said.
WorkProud, which helps companies craft an inspired workplace culture through communication, recognition, and rewards, presents a monthly webinar featuring experts on workplace issues nationwide. It’s always free, and there’s usually a great giveaway just for tuning in. Watch for details about upcoming sessions in our monthly newsletter. If you didn’t already subscribe, sign up here.
WorkProud is committed to helping its clients create a unified approach to the employee experience by helping them build cultures of workplace pride. Trusted by millions of users at some of the world’s most recognized employer brands, WorkProud delivers a comprehensive approach to building company cultures that inspire people to be Proud of their Work and Proud of their Company.
Every month, we share news, knowledge, and insight into what we believe is a pretty simple proposition: If you are “proud of your work and proud of your company,” you are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.