If you have a position of leadership, you probably have a strong ego.
That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very good thing.
Leaders are often the lightening rod for criticism of an organization. If something goes wrong, the leader takes the heat for it. Leaders need strong egos to weather these storms. When I think of the difficulty of some leadership roles I wonder “Who would ever want to do that job?” Ego plays a role in attracting people to leadership roles and is how we survive them.
But, any of us who have ever had a leadership role know that there can be temptations for the ego getting out of control.
Yes – maybe it is nice that everyone looks at you during a meeting to hear what “you” think about a particular issue. It feels good. But guess what, your ideas are not always the best ones. You need to remember that and adopt the ideas of others. Regularly.
And maybe your job comes with some perks. Perhaps a reserved parking spot. Maybe a nicer office with a big table for meetings. There can be practical reasons why you need your perks. But I know one leader who gave up the parking spot because he thought the people who got to work the earliest should have their choice. And I know another who makes her office meeting table available to her team if they need it. She takes her laptop and finds a place to camp out while they meet.
While leaders have to take attacks on behalf of the organization, they also can be the focal point for praise. If this happens – especially over a long period of time – we can make the mistake of thinking we are responsible for all that success. Guess what? You are not. You have a team – maybe a very large organization – that is making all this happen. Don’t let it go to your head and thank others regularly.
Like so many things, a strong ego is good if used with moderation. You are not as bad as your critics say and you are not as good as your cheerleaders suggest. And you probably have a great team that could always use more praise. You will be a more successful leader if you can moderate your ego.
*This blog was inspired by: “Ego is the Enemy of Good Leadership,” Hougaard, R. and Carter, J., Harvard Business Review, November 6, 2018.