Being self-confident is the mark of a great leader and people who are successful. This confidence in our own ability is what enabled us to reach for our dream of having a business. You and your business is what it is today because we had the right skills and know-how.
There are times, however, when “Ego” gets in the way of being a leader. Ego and self-confidence are not quite the same thing. Self-confidence is the ability to relax in what we know we can do well. It is not affected by what anyone else says or does. It is not tainted by jealousy if we discover that others are more competent at a specific task than we are. Self-confidence is a pure attribute that makes us strong leaders because we are secure in who and what we are.
Ego, or as my mentor Anthony Robbins calls it – Edging God Out, is a profound need to be recognised as the best or as always right. Wanting to be the best is not a misguided motivation. Most of us work hard to be the best, but when that effort mutates into an obsession that damages those around us, then it has morphed into Ego. Ego is self-confidence that has been poisoned by conceit or insecurity.
Ego can get in the way of our professional and personal health and growth:
Ego is always on the defensive. Because Ego forces us to compare ourselves to others, it is perpetually vulnerable and has to be defended. It affects how we interact because, instead of putting the other person’s needs first, our needs are our priority. We end up misinterpreting the words and intentions of others because we are viewing them through the warped prism of Ego.
Ego will not let us acknowledge the skills and accomplishments of others, including colleagues and employees. Instead of giving them credit, we underhandedly try to tear them down so that we look better. We end up turning relationships into competitions.
Ego doesn’t allow us to delegate even when that is in the best interest of our growth and the business. As companies grow, we eventually have to start delegating tasks that we had been handling ourselves. Ego forces us to assume that anyone we delegate to can’t possibly do the job as well as we could. The tendency is to want to micro-manage. Micromanaging fosters resentment in the people we try to control, and resentment results in poor workmanship.
Ego makes us overly critical. We keep comparing everyone to ourselves, and, since we are the standard, of course no one else can measure up. This leads to a very critical attitude toward everyone and everything around us. Your employees will eventually give up trying if they feel you will never approve of the quality of their work.
Pure self-confidence is free of these flaws. Self-confidence is based on fact, not opinion (especially your own). If you have self-confidence, you can honestly praise a coworker for an accomplishment or a creative idea without needing to have someone immediately stroke your ego.
Think about your own business or department. Are your interactions motivated more by self-confidence or by Ego? Take steps to ensure that your Ego is not controlling your attitudes and actions.
If you make it a point to avoid Ego, you will inspire your people to reach for the kind of self-confidence that they see in you.
Always remember too much Ego will kill your Talent. As Albert Einstein says – “More the Knowledge…. Lesser the Ego, Lesser the Knowledge, More the Ego…”
Where do you fit?