Is There a Place for Ego in Effective Leadership?
This promoted a stimulating observation and question from reader Donna Coulter-Grace:
“I couldn’t agree more. Leading at a higher level requires courage and humility and I believe neither is created by the ego. In my own experience, I have yet to see a single situation where an ego-focused perspective has resulted in a positive outcome. Ego is an attempt to increase the position of the self and it seems to me that having it as a driving force would, by default, have a detrimental impact on others. I’d be interested in hearing your perspective on whether you see a place for ego in effective leadership.”
– Donna Coulter-Grace
This got me thinking about our layers and types of ego. Unless we’ve reached a highly advanced state of enlightenment, we all have egos.
A healthy ego is often part of healthy pride we have in our work, our team, or our organization. It’s a prime driver of excellence and accomplishment. A leader with a healthy ego feels a deep sense of satisfaction in the accomplishments of the team or organization he or she is leading. Their ego is stroked by coaching, developing, and building others and watching them grow.
A leader with an unhealthy ego is self-centered and feels diminished by the accomplishments of others. He or she must always be center stage in the spotlight and have others defer to his or her authority. He or she wants to own “my people” and works to build dependence and a parent-child relationship. This unhealthy ego drives the leader to seek all credit for team or organization accomplishments and to appoint blame to others for all failures.
English author, John Ruskin, once observed that when we’re wrapped up in ourselves we make a pretty small package. What size of a package are you? If your peers and people reporting to you could anonymously vote on the paragraph that describes you best, which one would win? How do you know? Do you have the courage to find out?
- “The Mirror or Window: Finding the Courage to Stretch Our Comfort Zone“
- “Hypocrisy and Egotism: Me-Deep in Fooling Myself“
Further Your Leadership Development
On June 5 and 6, I’ll be running my only public workshop of 2012 in my hometown of Kitchener, Ontario (less than an hour drive from the Toronto airport). We’ll address many personal, team, and organization leadership skills such as:
This provocative, intense, reflective, and humor-filled two-day workshop is based on the key lessons of leadership condensed from our work with thousands of managers, and the research and writing of my books.
For over 30 years, Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. He has delivered thousands of keynote presentations, workshops, and management team retreats to hundreds of organizations around the globe moving his audiences from inspiration to application. He’s listed in the World’s Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus based on research with 22,000 global business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. His website is www.JimClemmer.com.