It’s easier to spot someone else’s ego than recognise your own. Truth is, your ego shows up more and impacts you more than you probably think. Working life has pressure giving you lots of excuses and reasons for you to fall into your ego.
Our ego takes us away from ourselves and who we are really meant to be. Dr. Wayne Dyer
Managing your ego and building your brand go hand in hand
Brad, who leads a large sales team, has ambitious career aspirations. With great results, confidence in expressing his views, and significant positive change created across his department, he feels ready for a step up. Little does he know how far he is from a promotion. Why? Because he’s perceived as opinionated and self-righteous. Great results don’t matter when your brand image has been tarnished by your ego.
Ego sits between positive intention and negative impact
Our ego – an internal self-protection mechanism – protects us by giving us certainty and predictability within our comfort zone. The risk though, is that through our ego, we believe we’re better than others and better than we really are – all while fearing not belonging, not being valued, and not being good enough.
We all have the same needs of the ego. How often do find yourself needing, for example:
1) TO BE RIGHT – we not only want to be right, we want to PROVE that we’re right, DEFEND our view and have the LAST WORD, even though someone else may feel put down or shut out in the process. When this happens, we value being right over the importance of the relationship.
What could be appropriate instead: Accept what someone else has said, and move on, knowing the other person can discover the information/mistake/consequence for themselves. Often, we’re not as right as we think we are – there are more perspectives/alternatives and things we don’t know about. There is a lot of value in, sometimes, shutting up.
2) TO JUDGE – we judge others in a way that creates drama, criticism/blame so that we, through the process, feel better about ourselves.
What to do instead: Ask yourself “What perspective could I choose right now instead that would show compassion and understanding to the person I’m judging?”
3) TO JUSTIFY – we justify that things aren’t that bad, that it’s going to get better, and that we’re okay as we are. We justify so that we can keep the status quo.
What to do instead: Realise that it takes more courage to leave a place of certainty (what we know or “the devil we know” as we sometimes call it) and go into the unknown, rather than leaving uncertainty and going into uncertainty.
4) TO LOOK GOOD – we put others down in a way that makes us right and look good to ourselves.
What to do instead: Ask yourself “Is my need to look good helping me look after me or am I meeting this need at the expense of others?”
Bringing it all together
You can’t turn your ego off. Being aware, when your ego pops up, gives you the opportunity to acknowledge it, so that you can choose a perspective that will best serve the needs of your relationships with others. That’s true leadership.How are you going to start to you to pay more attention to how your ego is driving how you react and respond to others as you move through your day? I’d love to know.