According to Forbes, ‘ego’ is one of the leading reasons why some leaders fall short. We all have an ego, however if we let ours rule us, as opposed to controlling it, ego can impede our own learning and the cultivation of other’s talent. A high ego can cause big blind spots leaving us functioning in our own bubble oblivious to our faults and over used strengths.
How does leadership ego surface?
Leaders with high egos seem to believe in old-fashioned, out dated, autocratic leadership techniques. In this command and control space, leaders can struggle to take on board the opinions and suggestions of others, because to them listening to others or asking for input may be seen as a sign of weakness. Even worse, the ego led leader may clash with others and struggle to work constructively with those who raise objections and/or question process because they find it difficult to accept or learn from feedback. Often such behaviour stems from feelings of insecurity. When a leader doubts their ability, when their confidence is lacking, they may strive to overcompensate by misusing their power. Often this leads to fast and often careless decision making on the leader’s part as well as placing unreasonable demands on their team.
How to avoid leadership ego
It is a normal human trait to battle feelings of self-doubt and fear. Remind yourself that you don’t always need to be right, you don’t always need to have all the answers and you don’t have to display unshakable confidence all the time. Leaders hire top talent to help them realise their vision, so be assured in the fact that you have a team in place who possess adequate skills and knowledge to support you, challenge you and deliver for you. Involve your people and equip them with the resources and training they need to drive change and results themselves.
Remember that fear is an illusion
We are fearful about things we regard as important or of value. As leaders our job is to keep working on ourselves, to keep learning, growing and bettering ourselves and others. If we continue to strive to be the best we can be we have nothing to fear. Stretching ourselves and stepping outside our comfort zones can help to reduce the levels of importance we attach to things and help to diminish our fears. Fear arises from our thoughts and perceptions, if we think too much we allow our stress to increase, so the best way to reduce fear is to take action.
How to deflate your ego
Set aside time regularly to evaluate your goals, objectives and progress, don’t be afraid to involve others in this process. Welcome suggestions for improvement and work in collaboration with your team to make the necessary changes.
Express gratitude daily and praise your team for their wins. Say a sincere ‘thank you’ to at least 1 person every day. Learn when to apologise for mistakes. Ask for feedback, and create a culture where everyone feels free to help your improvement.
Leadership ego is a liar that distorts reality and clouds judgment. If you feel your ego taking over you, shake it off. Many talented people have learned to conquer their egos and still attain great success.
Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.