Keeping Ego in Check: A Leader's Key to Creating a Positive Workplace

Wednesday, 25 October 2023

If you think being a leader is easy, it's a clear indication that you have never filled the role of a leader. 

Because being a leader is packed with various challenges that test your judgment, skills, and character.

One of these challenges is managing your ego

I wrote about this topic after reading an excellent short article in Harvard Business Review by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.

Some people might deny this fact, but as you rise in your career, you may unknowingly start feeling like one of the most important people in your whole organization. 

This feeling can hinder your decision-making and affect your relationships, which are crucial things in a work environment.

As you climb the corporate ladder, the power and privileges that come with it can feed your ego. 

It’s like being in a bubble where everything revolves around you, which can distance you from your team, your company's culture, and even your customers. This detachment definitely can turn the workplace environment negative.

A growing ego can affect a leader's values much like a virus. 

It can lead you to bend your own rules, humiliate your team members, act dishonestly, and cloud your decision-making. This not only impacts you but also influences the morale and integrity of the workplace. 

As your ego grows, you might end up creating a toxic work environment.

However, controlling your ego is possible! 

It demands courage, self-reflection, and a commitment to put others first, which are critical requirements of the Executive Leadership dimension in creating a positive workplace.

Here are three things you can do to control your ego.

The first step you need to do is introspection. 

You need the courage to critically analyze and self-evaluate your beliefs, actions, and biases. 

Reflect on what privileges are boosting your ego—Is it your role? Your reserved parking spot? The respectful treatment and admiration from others? 

To cultivate a positive work environment, you must be ready to let go of these ego-boosting perks and believe that those things are just temporary attributes.

Next, establish an environment that fosters openness and mutual respect. 

Encircle yourself with people who aren't afraid to voice their opinions, and ask them to give you feedback so you can identify blindspots of your leadership aspects. 

This diversity of thought will also help to prevent an atmosphere of blind agreement (groupthink) and help you to catalyze balanced decision-making, crucial for a healthy workplace.

Finally, practice humility and appreciation. 

Being humble doesn't mean belittling yourself; instead, it's about understanding that leadership is a privilege, not a right. 

By appreciating the efforts of others, you can encourage a culture of recognition and teamwork over individual glory—again, another key to creating a positive workplace.

Remember, taming your ego is a continuous process. 

It means regularly reminding yourself to listen more than you speak, respect others' viewpoints, and always remember you're part of a team. These practices are essential to nurturing a positive and productive work environment.

In leadership, an uncontrolled ego can be a formidable enemy. It can blur your judgment, damage relationships, and widen the gap between you and your team members. 

But with courage, self-reflection, and a commitment to prioritizing others, you can dodge the ego trap. 

It not only helps you become a more effective leader but also plays a vital role in cultivating a positive and vibrant workplace, something which is a must-have in today's dynamic business world.