Choosing Not to Act from Ego

“My ego doesn’t get in the way.”

Know anyone who says that?  Chances are their ego is the size of a small planet.  They might genuinely believe they have no ego (which makes it worse), but oh boy is it there.  Just ask anyone who works with or for them.

If you’re a bad leader, you’re completely unaware of your ego’s destructive influence on everyone around you.  But then, if you’re a bad leader, you probably don’t care how your ego is impacting others.

Does that mean that good leaders have transcended their egos?  Well, since there are roughly 7 people on the planet who have transcended their egos – and they’re all sitting in caves in the Himalayas – that would be a no.

But what good leaders do is tune into their egos, diligently, sometimes even painfully.  They cultivate awareness of how their egos operate … and refuse to act in accordance with the ego’s directives when those directives are more self-serving than other-serving.

Tell us what you think.  We’d like our blog posts to begin a dialogue.  We eagerly welcome your comments and questions.

For insight into some specifics of how ego shows up in leadership, check my business partner’s blog post in this space a few weeks ago.

What I want to add to his post is that it’s your responsibility as a leader to constantly monitor which is in charge in your decision-making – your small, self-serving, fear-based, competitive, zero-sum-oriented ego (which we all possess, so we might as well acknowledge and recognize it) – or your higher self, focused on service, on the greater good, on a larger purpose for your life.

The confusing thing is that both your unhealthy ego and your higher self may in certain cases be pushing you in similar directions.  The challenge is to tease them apart – to make sure the action you take is the action your higher self would advocate for – even if your fear-based, appreciation-seeking, power-hungry ego didn’t exist.

This takes careful, searingly honest self-scrutiny.  That’s what great leaders do.

YOUR PATH FORWARD: For one week, remind yourself to check your motivations whenever you’re faced with a significant decision.  Is this decision in the best interests of your team, or your company, or better yet, the planet and future generations?  Or will it just make you look good?  If it makes you look good and it’s in the best interests of a larger purpose, that’s okay.  Just make sure your actions emerge from the latter motivation, not the former.

Tell me what you think …

About the Author

Steve Motenko
Steve Motenko is an executive coach, leadership trainer, and co-host of The Boss Show, a weekly podcast on workplace dynamics. Steve and his Boss Show co-host, Jim Hessler, are co-authors of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guide to Building Your Leadership Platform. Steve lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and dog, whom he loves, and a cat he tolerates usually pretty well.

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