Ego – The Enemy of Good Leadership


AS A LEADER, having a ‘finger on the pulse’ of your organisation is critical.

Unfortunately, with ego-driven leaders, this usually doesn’t happen.

In fact, most egotistical leaders think they are ‘above’ everyone else. 

As a result, they soon become cut off and isolated from the rest of the organisation, leading to isolation and mistrust.

Of course, sometimes the higher in the organisation a leader goes, the bigger their ego becomes.

This can ultimately cause them to lose touch with their colleagues, the company culture, and their clients. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, leadership experts Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter explain how a person’s ego is like a ‘target’ they carry around with them.

The bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit: with an inflated ego making it much easier for others to take advantage of them. 

Dubbed by some psychologists as the ‘hubris syndrome’, this can lead to: ‘A disorder of the possession of power: particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years.’

Such an unchecked ego can have disastrous consequences, as it leads to warped perspectives and twisted values.

If unchecked, it can cause the person to lost control – as well as making them susceptible to manipulation.

It can also narrow their field of vision, corrupt their behaviour, and cause them to act against their values.

So how does a leader prevent such ego-driven calamities from occurring?

The first thing is to make managing their ego, and it’s craving for fortune, fame, and influence, a prime responsibility.

Because the ego-driven leader is a victim of their constant need for attention and praise, they end up making decisions that can be detrimental to themselves, their people, and their organisation.

So, simply being aware of the problem is hugely important.

And once a leader realises the road he or she is going down will only lead to self-destruction, they can soon address it.

This also enables them to become more humble, learn from their mistakes, and avoid the ‘leadership bubble’.

With this in mind, here are some further tips for leaders to break free of an overly protective or inflated ego:

1. Practise humility and gratitude

Really appreciating your co-workers and being grateful for their efforts are the major cornerstones of selflessness. At the end of each working day, selfless leaders reflect on all of those people who played a part in making them successful that day. These ‘non-ego driven’ leaders are well-used to appreciating the work of others. As a result, they develop a natural and all-important sense of humility

2. Reassess your tips and perks

Most leaders have a range of tips and perks they are afforded to make their job easier or more effective. This is fine. However, there may also be some benefits that are designed to promote their status and power and ultimately, their ego. So, as a leader, it is wise to consider which of those you can let go of. This is important because by doing so, it puts you much more in touch with the rest of the organisation

3. Rid yourself of ‘yes’ people

Smart leaders never surround themselves with ‘yes’ men or women. Where possible, they work only with people who will challenge and sometimes question, their decisions: not feeding their ego. It is widely recognised that the best way for a leader to get ahead and really help their organisation, is to hire smart people with the confidence to speak up.

Professor Gary Martin FAIM FACE
Australian Institute of Management WA CEO | Board Director | Keynote Speaker |Building Better Workplace

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