Egotistical Leaders & Managers

Raise your hand if you have an ego. Come on, do it. Hey, we all have egos – every single person in this world has an ego. And some keep that ego in check. In fact, some put it to good use. But others…

One sure sign of an unchecked ego is this: Do you do more telling than you do asking?

If you find that you spend far more time telling people what to do than you do asking questions, that might be a sign of an unchecked ego.

For fear of coming across as someone who does not know all the answers, Ego Eddy likes to tell everyone around him what to do. He likes to comment on practically every subject, proving that he is “all-knowing.”

Questioning Quincy, on the other hand, is not afraid to ask questions – even when he knows the answers. In fact, especially when he knows the answers. And a funny thing happens when Quincy asks questions: people respect him more than they do Eddy. In fact, they not only respect him more, but they tend to go to him for answers. What? Why would they go to someone who asks questions for the answers to questions? You tell me.

Okay, perhaps Ego Eddy is at the far end of the ego spectrum, and you know you’re nowhere near there. Do you? How do you know that? Where are you on that spectrum?

A little challenge for you this week: Find three situations where you know the answer to a question, or exactly how to solve a problem, but hold back – do not answer the question or solve the problem directly. Instead, ask others how they would answer the question or solve the problem. Hold your ego in check and allow others to strut their stuff. Do this three times over the next week. See how it feels. Observe what happens to you and the others around you.

I’m not saying that answering all questions, or solving any problem is a sign of an out-of-control ego. Far from it. In fact, there are times when that is exactly what people are looking for – answers to questions, and solving of problems. What I am saying is that sometimes, just sometimes, this is the case. It’s your ego talking when you want to be the one answering a question or solving a problem. Of course, answering a question or solving a problem is not a bad thing. Again, far from it. But over time, if you’re the one that does that all the time… just when you think you’re making yourself invaluable – the one everyone must count on – you may find yourself being the one people resent. You may find yourself being the one people want to avoid.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When you keep your ego in check, when you give others credit for what you did, when you allow others to answer the question or solve the problem, when you allow others to strut their stuff, you make them feel good. And they will “never forget how you made them feel.”

How are you making others in your workplace feel? Could you ask more questions, and answer less often?

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