The ego – a danger zone for leaders

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote about the power of humility, personal will and its links to leadership excellence. Not to be confused with being a big softy, my own experience is that effective leaders running successful companies exhibit loads of it! Humility is the inherent quality of treating everyone as an equal, with respect, candour and dignity. Unfortunately for many, success very often breeds ego’s the size of cannon balls – self-interest overshadows the importance of colleagues, friends, customers and very often family. Acquiring a big ego can lead to a danger zone for leaders – a disconnection from the things and people who lie at the heart of success, they become redundant and forgotten. The ego is a critical ingredient to making enemies and switching off the support from those who matter.

Ego’s are an unsavoury element to corporate life as well, pure observation leads me to believe that all too often judgements are made purely in self-interest. Well my advice is, make balanced business decisions ones which consider the impact on staff, shareholders and customers (and family!). Very often the mighty fall as a result of their ego’s drowning out any appreciation of humility. Self awareness is the antidote and as my Mum say’s – never get too big for your boots!

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6 Responses to The ego – a danger zone for leaders

  1. Hindsight is a great thing isn’t it? :)) I use it to see when I’ve had too big an ego and how more often than not, it’s my getting ideas above my station that’s made something go wrong.

    – Thinking that we are able to bypass a system to get our own way, for example, can backfire *ahem*…. And I’m still making up for that one 18 months later!
    – Assuming that suggestions from a subcontractor for a client means that they want to poach them for themselves… I’ll be making up for that one for the next 18 months I think!!

    I’m learning. And I think it’s important to acknowledge that isn’t it?

    No one is perfect. Leaders are not born, they are made, through their experience, mentors and environment around them. And that’s why it’s so important to me, to surround myself above, below and at my level with people who are down to earth, normal and with similar ethics.

    So this post on ethics has been good timing for me – we had a new starter in the office today – Emma. And she’s going to fit in brilliantly with us. Not least because she appreciates that Hannah, who is our office manager, finance bird and general all round organiser of me, is truly the “glue” of Weston Communications and that it’s important to get her on side, rather than me!!

    Here’s hoping some more people will come forward and share how they are learning to manage their egos and use them for good purpose….

    Liz Weston aka @TheLizWeston

    http://www.westoncommunications.org.uk

    http://www.ukbabyshows.co.uk

    http://www.newbabyguides.co.uk

    • johnleachwp says:

      A danger zone we all fall into ! STOP and look and listen to yourself, self awareness is so powerful – interesting that there is such a thin dividing line between self belief and a big head!

  2. Geoff Balfour says:

    Interesting topic John. I’ve observed it so many times, particularly in my past in the corporate world. Sometimes people don’t even know it is happening to them and and need “friendly supporters” like you mum around to keep them straight. I had a similar mam and her memory helps to keep me on track…I hope! Having an Ego is ok in some situations and sometimes necessary for confidence among friends and to avoid the opposite…possible depression through perceived lack of self worth…but should be left at the door when entering a business situation. Complexed.

    • johnleachwp says:

      Good points Geoff, I think you are right. I think “authenticity” is very important and just being who you are, so often a “big ego” dilutes this – cheers John

  3. Carol Taylor says:

    John, so refreshing to see this, maybe it is the ego in many leaders that stop them from taking up self/personal development opportunities or is it just fear?

    • johnleachwp says:

      Hi Carol – great point. When you think you know it all then you have a problem. The reality is the best leaders have no fear of surrounding themselves with people who are better than themselves. Its back to self awareness thanks John

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