Don’t Let Your Ego Hijack Your Leadership Effectiveness

The road to becoming an executive is not an easy one at all. A great deal of sacrifice is required, and you also have to possess considerable amounts of self-confidence. If you are not careful the result of your high opinion of your own capabilities will undercut any effectiveness you have as a leader.

Blinded by Self Light

Leaders get to that position by being successful at what they do. It isn’t due to bragging but figures and results which tell the tale. The problem surfaces as a self-image blocks information and creates a distorted sense of expectations from employees. The sports world is full of stories of star athletes who went on to fail miserably as head coaches. Ego becomes an increasingly more serious problem as leaders succumb to the glare of its light. Some of the more pressing signs of an executive ego having gone out of control include the following:

  1. Defensive Behaviour. The leader is not open to criticism and defends his or her own idea even when it is the wrong strategy;
  2. Aggressive Competitive Behaviour. Comparisons are constantly being made with someone else and that person is viewed as a rival and not a colleague ;
  3. Demand for Approval. It is a case where an executive expects acceptance and recognition instead of honest input;
  4. Self-Aggrandisement. The individual wishes to be the center of attention and doesn’t wish to share the credit with others

The damage caused by leadership ego gradually blooms like a weed. New ideas are discarded and subordinate input is not appreciated. Any criticism is viewed as coming from a rival, whereas praise is favorably received even when it is not warranted. Turnover can be an immediate problem as talented people leave the company. The long term consequence can be a failure to effectively compete as needed innovation is discouraged.

Is There a Way Out of This?

A psychiatrist will say a patient can be healed only if the patient wishes to be. The same can be said for a leader showing signs of ego obsession. The consequences of not getting a leader’s ego under control can be quite severe. There are some easy ways for a leader to change.

  • Be Humble Lest You be Humiliated. Essentially, the leader comes to realize it is more about the corporate mission than his or her own personal needs. When a leader goes from being a dictator to a facilitator and coach the work force responds positively. Giving credit where it is due instead of taking it all will inspire both loyalty and hard work.
  • Accept the Truth Even When It Hurts. It takes a fair amount of self-confidence to accept constructive criticism but possibly negative comments have to be considered every now and then. A leader has to keep in mind that such comments are all part of achieving goals and objectives and not take anything personally.
  • Strive to be a Learner. Young subordinates have ideas which can help and their input should not be ignored. A good leader is not necessarily the ultimate expert and can learn more from what others suggest. In fact, an effective leader is curious and open to new ideas. Innovation in the modern global economy is often generously rewarded,
  • Do not be Afraid to Delegate. A symptom of an ego out of control is micromanagement. Another bad sign is a leader who keeps control over certain activities due to a lack of trust in subordinates. Both are counter-productive. A leader should be willing to assign tasks to the team and trust them to perform. Periodic reports are important but the emphasis is to give subordinates autonomy sufficient to get the job done effectively and on time.
  • Embrace Change. The new world of commerce is always in a state of change. The means formerly used, and which a leader is familiar with, may become archaic. Instead of stubbornly using only those practices that made him or her a leader in the first place, a leader should be willing to use new tactics and strategies. Change is not the enemy and accepting it does not mean earlier activity was non-productive or stupid.

You cannot have a massive ego and expect to win in the global economy. Competition will not allow for this kind of in efficiency. A major tragedy occurs when ego destroys everything you have worked so hard to create.

Admit it, you got to be in an executive leadership position not just based on personal genius. You became successful because you knew how to encourage people to work a bit harder. An image of integrity and dedication was carefully constructed as you moved up the ranks. You cannot rest on your laurels nor can you be seduced by the sound of false praise.

A successful leader has the right to be proud but the job is nowhere finished. New titles bring on new levels of responsibility. You will have to be able to depend on others to meet be objectives. To keep on track requires you maintain the same level of leadership skills you had in the past. Ego can damage those traits and will ultimately harm you.

Take pride in the achievements of your subordinates, instead. Their success is due in part to your guidance. The best performers will not forget what you did to help them achieve those high results. They will want to continue the relationship they have with you, meaning the turnover of top talent is lower than ordinary. These are the kind of long term benefits you will achieve when you put others ahead of your personal needs for recognition.

Ego is not much more than a destructive force in the corporate world. Too many executive discover too late the cost of being defensive or angry in the face of honest criticism. You should not let a personal need for esteem blind you. At the end of the day you win with people more than with your individual talents. An ego can be reined in for the good of the order.


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