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- Christa Heibel
- Gap Assessment
What is the role of ego in business leadership?
- Christa Heibel
- 27 May 2015
Over the years of consulting I have learned there is sometimes a fine line between giving honest input and stepping on toes, or egos as it may more adequately be named! The ego is a funny thing because we need it for the confidence, drive, direction and stamina to get to the top of an organization (or start your own!) But that same companion ego can also be our demise. Ego can be defensive, selfish, short-sighted and problematic. The best leaders can set aside their egos and operate with an open mind and open heart in a way that really allows them to objectively listen to team input, be open to constructive feedback, cultivate open communication, and reward creative new ideas when replacing their own original idea/way.
The CHCG team gets to see the brilliance of this type of leader every time we are invited to do a gap assessment as part of an audit or improvement initiative. Sometimes these are proactive decisions made to stay competitive and grow, and sometimes these are profit/loss driven moments that are required to “save the day.” The latter is not always a time when we may want to invite others in and ego is prone to become defensive when we have to be open to recognizing mistakes we’ve made and opportunities we’ve missed. But in either scenario, we always appreciate both how hard and how smart it is to invite in that outside opinion!
Research has shown for years that “group think” is a real problem amongst organizations and can force a stagnant environment (best case), cost money, and/or put an organization at real risk. Selecting and allowing objective, experienced experts, that are sincere in their desire to improve your company, come in and go through your organization to provide you with some new perspective on the reality of what is happening – is brilliant. None of us individually know everything. We can’t. So being aware enough to give the ego a break now and then and really open ourselves up to objective, constructive and effective input on our business, department, team or processes, is probably something every leader, organization, and team can use now and then to guarantee maximum performance and effectiveness.
New ideas, perspectives, varied experiences and input from the right partner can be a real game changer!
I remember like it was yesterday my first experience with having a consultant brought into my area. As a very young Director, I was offended. My ego was bruised. I felt like the owner was saying I was failing. It was hard to not be defensive as I watched the team pick apart all of the process and structure I had put in place. It was very hard. At the end of the day, much of the feedback felt like what I had been saying and requesting for months. That part was great! It gave me confidence and the support I needed with the owner to get things moving. I also learned a ton. There was no way my 24 year old self could know what this 40-something women knew. Kind and intelligent, she included us in the process and it was hard not to like her. Eventually the need to be defensive went away when we realized that she was there to support us – not threaten us. We gained a smart new team member really trying to help us out!
It was then, at the age of 24, that I knew what I wanted to do one day – help businesses.
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