Taming Your Ego: The Key to Effective Leadership

Remember being 19 years old? We were all at the crossroads of many pivotal life decisions; higher education, romantic interests, career choices. We faced these decisive moments with a youthful obliviousness. We knew it all, and we did it all. Nothing in this world could ever stop us from achieving our dreams. Ignorance was bliss. It’s fascinating to look back and see how Ego dictated much of our youth. More daunting is the fact that for many people, it still runs rampant well beyond their teenage years.

Unchecked, it can distort and misguide our reality. The Ego can convince you that any criticism that doesn’t align with your preconceived notions is false.

We all have some form of Ego dependence, but these two individuals display a great range between control and chaos: Drew and Jacob are Human Resource Managers at a large Engineering Firm. Drew has been working with me for roughly three years. Over time, Drew has allowed himself to be brutally honest with every aspect of his life, both professionally and personally. In doing so, Drew recently received a major promotion as the Director of Human Resources of all Pacific Northwest locations. Drew’s CEO notified him that through his constant professional growth and leadership development, they felt confident in leaning upon him for this sizable role. Jacob was a completely different story. I’ve been working with Jacob for 5 months. He’s had a difficult time accepting criticism and dismisses all my remarks. Jacob has worked with many different consultants, none of which were genuinely candid in their feedback. He was upset and defensive when I made comments that he hadn’t heard before. Half the time I work with Jacob, it’s to defuse situations in which he feels personally attacked. In my pursuit for transformation, I am always willing to lose a client.

Drew and Jacob are two very similar individuals, each facing difficulty in accepting criticism. The main differentiating factor was that Drew had a willingness to tear down his Ego-fueled insecurities, while Jacob reinforced and hid behind them. Lasting transformation requires users to have a constant authentic view of their personal weaknesses and shortcomings. We cannot build with a crack in your foundation. I urge you to follow the advice I gave to both Drew and Jacob. Recognize your ego, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and have a willingness to change.

In what ways has your ego prohibited you from change? How might your life have been if you allowed yourself to be vulnerable towards change?


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