Ego, derived from the Latin word meaning “I myself,” can be a potent tool when used appropriately, providing the necessary level of confidence. All mindsets contribute to the ego, allowing individuals to leverage their strengths and identify areas for improvement, leading to increased effectiveness and confidence. Ego refers to a person’s self-esteem and self-importance, which, in moderation, can benefit small business owners. However, problems arise when the ego becomes excessively inflated.
It is not imperative to always be right in every action or statement. In reality, a certain amount of ego is essential for leaders to achieve, innovate, and have the courage to explore new ideas. However, leaders driven solely by ego can be toxic to their organizations. An ego-driven leader can undermine a business, much like a lack of customers can. The difference lies in the fact that the reputation of a business led by an ego-driven leader can discourage potential job applicants. Few things are more detrimental to an organization than a leader driven by ego, feeling entitled and important simply because they desire to be so. Such individuals perceive themselves as superior and distinct from others.
Avoiding Ego’s Interference in Leadership Effectiveness
“Always remember: Too much ego will kill your talent.” – Unknown Author
Ego poses one of the biggest challenges for humanity, as being completely egoless is impossible. An overactive ego distorts one’s sense of importance, making them view themselves as the center of their world. This self-centered mindset leads to prioritizing personal agendas, status, and gratification over the needs of others.
Characteristics of Ego-Driven Leaders
Ego-driven leaders often:
Gauge success based on how much attention their accomplishments receive.
Feel better about themselves when others fail to achieve their goals.
Undermine others to appear smarter, more competent, and more knowledgeable than them.
Drive people away over time.
Erode trust and employ any means necessary to exert control over others.
Constantly seek praise and the spotlight.
Fail to reflect on personal shortcomings, as it would threaten their need to feel superior. They neglect addressing their blind spots, and eventually, people stop bringing them up.
Disregard alternative perspectives.
Undertake daunting tasks without preparation or problem-solving abilities, underestimating the challenges involved.
Prioritize status over service in their leadership approach.
Always strive to be right, without room for error.
Easily take offense and are quick to defend themselves, sometimes employing any excuse that works in their favor.
Rarely, if ever, admit their faults without rationalizing or blaming others, using statements like “It’s my way or the highway,” “Others need to adapt to me, not the other way around,” or “No one else can solve this problem except me.”
Losing Business Clients and Customers Without Knowing Why
“When your ego may be in charge, everything becomes a little bit more about ‘you’ and a little bit less about others.” – Christopher Pinckley
Can you acknowledge making a poor decision? Every day, you make decisions that you have to live with, but you also have the power to change them. Generally, people are not fond of those with inflated egos, as they perceive them as unreceptive and always convinced of their own rightness. Clients and customers believe that ego-driven individuals are not customer-focused and prioritize their own needs over the needs of others.
Blaming others for your decisions does not sit well with your employees. Ego-driven individuals seldom admit to making poor decisions. Business owners or leaders often believe they do not require assistance. However, there may be aspects of their business that they are not fully aware of. In such cases, seeking input from employees can generate thoughts and ideas to adapt the business to current trends.
Experiencing High Employee Turnover
You might think that hiring the right talent is the solution, instead of motivating your employees or welcoming individuals who question your decisions. Employees, both current and potential, avoid organizations with an environment lacking openness.
Being Dissatisfied with Others’ Work
Offering praise or recognition to employees or colleagues becomes a challenge. Blaming others for mistakes you made does not sit well with most people, leading them to seek opportunities elsewhere. Instead of looking for employees’ mistakes, you blame them for ideas that were not even theirs.
Adjusting your ego means recognizing that work is not solely about you. Acknowledging and praising the work completed by your employees can make a difference. Few ego-driven leaders are willing to do this, as they expect employees to merely fulfill their duties without going beyond.
Differentiating Between Self-Doubt and False Pride
“When you allow your ego to control your thoughts, everything you believe becomes an illusion.” – Rusty Eric
Your perception of yourself largely determines your leadership effectiveness. Having a healthy level of self-esteem and self-confidence is beneficial. However, an ego that perceives itself as always winning and incapable of failure needs to be grounded in reality. During times of crisis, an ego-driven leader’s behavior can become volatile, leading to lashing out at people and blaming them for problems they did not cause, which can result in vacancies that need to be filled.
Recognize Your Strengths and Limitations
Your ability to lead effectively relies on how you perceive yourself. It is essential to maintain a balance between self-confidence and humility. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, exercise ambition with caution, strike a balance between confidence and doubt, apply foresight while learning from hindsight, demonstrate boldness while taking accountability, blend inspiration with groundedness, and consider both personal and others’ needs.
“Don’t let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn’t go with it.” – Colin Powell