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Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

by DW Green — November 15, 2018

My ego has gotten the best of me at times.

I’ve always had an interest in the ego. We all have one, and the fact that our ego effects our relationship with life. I know my ego has gotten the best of me at times.

Ego defined: A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

I read the following in the November 6th Harvard Business Review. It’s written by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. An edited version below.

“Our ego is like a target we carry with us. And like any target, the bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit. In this way, an inflated ego makes it easier for others to take advantage of us. Because our ego craves positive attention, it can make us susceptible to manipulation. It makes us predictable. When people know this, they can play to our ego. When we’re a victim of our own need to be seen as great, we end up being led into making decisions that may be detrimental to ourselves, our people, and our organization.

An inflated ego also corrupts our behavior. When we believe we’re the sole architects of our success, we tend to be ruder, more selfish, and more likely to interrupt others. This is especially true in the face of setbacks and criticism. In this way, an inflated ego prevents us from learning from our mistakes and creates a defensive wall that makes it difficult to appreciate the rich lessons we glean from failure.

Finally, an inflated ego narrows our vision. The ego always looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. Basically, a big ego makes us have a strong confirmation bias. Because of this, we lose perspective and end up in a leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want to. As a result, we lose touch with the people we lead, the culture we are a part of, and ultimately our clients and stakeholders.

Humility and gratitude are cornerstones of selflessness. Make a habit of taking a moment at the end of each day to reflect on all the people that were part of making you successful on that day. This helps you develop a natural sense of humility, by seeing how you are not the only cause of your success. And end the reflection by actively sending a message of gratitude to those people.

If we let our ego determine what we see, what we hear, and what we believe, we’ve let our past success damage our future success.”

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