If you have ever worked with Maister, Green & Galford’s Trust Equation, you’ll know that perceived self-orientation (i.e. someone who comes across as focused on their own agenda) is the quickest way to undermine a relationship of trust.
Generally, we have come to associate the word ‘ego’ with this idea of being self-centered, but actually, an ego is not always as bad as its initial connotations. While leaders being egotistical can lead to retention problems (especially with more than two in five employees having left a job because of a bad manager), they can also be a force for good. However, it is important to get the balance right – leaders need to develop and utilize a ‘healthy ego’ in order to optimize their leadership abilities.
So, what does a ‘healthy ego’ look like?
Well, one way to think about this is by considering the airplane safety briefing. When the cabin crew are doing the safety demonstration just before take-off, they remind everyone that in the event of needing oxygen masks, it is imperative that you put your own mask on first before attending to those of children or others around you. This is a great analogy for a healthy ego!
The fact is, nothing is going to unsettle an organization more than employees lacking faith in their leader. Staff want to know that their higher-ups know what they are doing, are good at what they do, and have confidence in the future of the company. There is some level of ego that every leader must have in order to believe that they are the right person for the job and have the ability to make the hard decisions and delegate where need be.
I believe the key to balancing this out and making this ego healthy is inclusivity – even though a leader benefits from being confident and having credible experience, they need to also have a growth mindset and be willing to listen and incorporate other opinions and use this when making a decision.
As well as this, if a leader is making their intentions clear by being transparent and communicative with their teams, then they do not risk this display of ‘ego’ being misconstrued as vanity or self-orientation.
If you would like to discuss how to find that perfect balance to create healthy egos in leaders, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org