The Leadership Ego Equation

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I like my leaders to have an ego. I like them to have pride in their teams, their people and their results. I like their ego to be built upon the respect that people have for them, and their character, competence and their results.

I am reminded of of the Leadercast talk last year from Mike Krzyzewski the coach of the United States Basketball team. He describes his first meeting with the team and advised them NOT to leave their egos at the door. He wanted them to be who they were and he also wanted them to bringing their egos into creating a new team ego, the ego of USA Basketball.

I like leaders to have an ego. To be proud of the standards they have met and aspire to. It is important for a leader to be aware of how others perceive them, and internally we all aspire naturally to being respected by others. That is the ego that I like. Ego built on reputation, built on character, built on competence and built on results.

Ego built on anything else is simply bullshit. Ego, not built on reputation, is basically the story you are telling you and anyone that will listen. Ego not built on substance and built on nothing but the image you want conveyed.

Let me explain. Leader A recently moved divisions in a company in a sideways move. Leader A took the move for valid reasons, however his own ego stops himself from expressing this. He was returning to his original division and in effect returning to his strength zone.  His ego and image egets in the way as he “explained” his move to his former team in a different light and in a higher position than what he actually had taken. Now every time he converses by email to his former colleagues, he adjusts his email signature to match the title he told them he had. All image, all ego and totally non-effective. Would you like to work for someone like this?

Leader B left a large retailer two years ago, to join their new start-up competitor. He recently resigned from the new start-up to return “home’ to his former employer. He explains he has been “chased” to return for the last 18 months. This is pure ego. Many that speak with this leader advise others to listen and reduce by 75% of what they say. In other words, cut away the bullshit. When it’s all about image, you simply cannot achieve for your team or your company as you are more concerned with the presentation of the image. Again, would you like to work for someone that you need to adjust 75% to get the real story?

Ego for ego sake is simply not good. When you present an image, and you deliver something less, the end result is  pain personally, within the team and within the company.

Yes I like leaders to have an ego. I like leaders to have pride in their results, their performance and their competence. Ego built on reputation is healthy. Ego built for image is worth nothing.

Tony Curl –
Leadership & Empowerment Coach

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Tony Curl

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