Check Your Ego at the Door
There is simply no place for a big ego in any position within any company. While it is true that there is a high degree of correlation between passionate inspirational leaders and people who have a need to talk about how great, intelligent or successful they are, we would argue that it is also true that those people would be that much more successful if they kept their need for publicity or public recognition to themselves. The concept isn’t new and is embodied in Jim Collins’ concept of Level 5 Leadership.
CTOs who need to talk about being the “smartest person in the room” and CEOs who say “I’m right more often than I’m wrong” simply have no place in a high performing team. Such statements alienate the rest of a team and very often will push the very highest performing individuals – those actually getting stuff done – out of the team and out of the company. These actions and statements run counter to building the best of teams and over time will serve to destroy shareholder value. The best leaders give of themselves selflessly in an ethical pursuit of creating shareholder value. The right way to approach your job as a leader and a manager is to figure out how to get the most out of your team in order to maximize shareholder wealth. You are really only a critical portion of that long term wealth creation cycle if your actions evolve around being a leader of the team rather than an individual. Take some time and evaluate yourself and your statements through the course of a week. Identify how many times you reference yourself or your accomplishments during the course of your daily discussions. If you find that you are doing it often, take some time to step back and redirect your thoughts and your statements to things that are more team rather than self oriented.
It is not easy to make this type of change. There are people all around us who appear to be rewarded for being egoists and narcissists and it is easy to come to the conclusion that humility is a character trait embodied by the unsuccessful business person. But all you need to do is reflect on your career and identify the boss to whom you had the greatest loyalty and for whom you would do nearly anything; that boss most likely put the shareholders first and the team always. Be the type of person who thinks first about how to create shareholder value rather than personal value and you will succeed!