As a leader, you probably want to align the visions and values of your company with the people you employ. However, a common mistake is for leaders to let their “leadership ego” get in the way.
Erik Dietrich, CEO of DaedTech LLC, highlights an example of this in practice. In his example, he talks about a situation which he refers to as the “Beggar CEO and Sucker Culture”.
In his article, he refers to a letter wrote to Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO of Human Workplace, which starts off like this:
“I know that leadership is all about trust and I do trust my employees, but I wish they would show a little more effort. They come in on time and they get their work done and that’s it.
I leave my office around 6:15 p.m. most nights and I don’t think that’s an especially long workday. But the parking lot is nearly empty every night when I leave. Why am I always one of the last half-dozen people out the door?”
This is only one example of how your leadership ego might get in the way of progress, and there are many others. For example, some leaders take a “lead from the top” approach, which ultimately causes them to lose sight of what it is like “in the trenches”.
How to Dial Down Your Leadership Ego
Letting our egos get in the way of progress can be damaging. But how do we combat our “leadership ego”? ICF Executive Coach Jackie Arnold gives us some useful advice in her article “losing the leadership ego”.
“If we allow our egos to get in the way of effective leadership” writes Jackie, “then we cannot expect to grow others and tap into their knowledge… part of the leadership role is being able to self-manage so you are flexible, optimistic and reliable. These are qualities that when nurtured make an effective leader approachable, motivational and highly regarded.”
In the example shared by Erik Dietrich, perhaps the letter-writer felt as if she was doing enough by simply leading by example and working overtime. I am sure her employees admired her hard work, but was it really enough to inspire them to do the same? By simply expecting her employees to copy her every move (and for no extra pay), she was failing to be flexible to their needs. Her disappointment in her employees probably also meant that she didn’t give off the most optimistic vibe. But according to Jackie, we need both flexibility and optimism if we want to be approachable and motivational.
Are you expecting your employees to operate the same as you? Are you leading from the top, instead of working alongside your people to understand what motivates them the most? If so, then maybe it is time to dial down your leadership ego by being more flexible with other working styles, and more optimistic about your business.