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Leaders Don’t Let Ego Win

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Tue Jul 23 2013

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My forthcoming book, Leading w_ith Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts_ is based on interviews with some of the top thought leaders and executive coaches in the field of leadership. Eight themes emerged, which became chapters in the book.

One strong theme was that in order to become an effective leader, you need to understand what makes leaders behave badly.  When we understand bad leadership, we learn how to be good leaders.

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I concluded that ego development should be a major component of leadership development.  We need to understand our shadow side (dark side) so that we cast more “light” than “darkness” in our organization or whenever we are in positions of influence. The key is to keep the ego in check, but we can only do this when we know the ego is winning.  The dark side of the ego most often manifests itself in negative behaviors such as defensiveness, micromanaging, jealousy, envy, and overly competitiveness.

Often in workshops, I will ask people if they have ever worked with a bad leader—anyone who influenced their life.  Usually hands go shooting up in the air.  I don’t think most people want to be bad leaders. But I think they don’t understand the power of the ego and how it wants to take over.  When this happens, a toxic environment is created and this affects productivity, satisfaction, and the ability to grow. 

When we understand how the ego influences our thoughts and behaviors, then we can better control it. Our goal should be the kind of leaders others want to follow and this happens when leaders don’t let the ego win.

And another one of my conclusions from my research for the book was this: Good leaders are good people.

Have you worked for a bad leader? Have you felt the ego winning within yourself?

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