Overview: As much as we need our egos to provide us with psychological safety, when we allow them too much control, they can ruin our ability to build meaningful relationships. An overflowing ego is especially detrimental to leaders. Executive coaching can help leaders develop limited egos that serves their needs perfectly.
“A bad day for your ego is a good day for your soul.” – Jillian Michaels.
The ego has a role in life. It protects us from rejection and hurt and allows us to move past failures that would otherwise destroy our self-perception and will. A limited ego lets you build confidence and become more successful. Sometimes, we may become addicted to the protective effects of our egos and grow overly reliant on them.
Leaders are people like everyone else. Leadership coaching specialists are acutely aware they aren’t exempted from letting their egos control their actions and reactions.
While we can’t squash our egos (nor should we try to), we can limit the control they exert over our behaviors, thereby improving our relationships and leadership abilities.
How Can You Tell When Your Ego Takes Over?
Leadership coaching recognizes ego is one of the sneakiest and least predictable variables in the equation of intelligent leadership. It can rear its head unnoticed and gradually take over without causing spectacular lapses in leadership.
Nipping its adverse effects in the bud is important, however, as the damage it does is long-term and difficult to repair. Here are a few clues that can alert leaders to the growing influence of their egos on their leadership.
- When others succeed, they respond with intense jealousy
- They turn into know-it-alls and feel insatiable desires to “win” arguments
- They value their ideas more than everyone else’s
- They’re always keen on contributing input but don’t care to listen to what others have to say
- “Winning” means a lot to them
Those who recognize these signs in their behaviors should take them as proof that they allow their egos too much sway.
From the perspective of executive coaching, leaders should not attempt to suppress their egos. They should acknowledge the ways in which it can help them. At the same time, however, they should not let their egos give them tunnel vision.
The Ego Creates Echo Chambers
A limited ego builds confidence and sets the groundwork for success. Out-of-control egos build echo chambers that are dangerous for leaders. Shutting out all outside feedback, these echo chambers amplify the voices of the leaders, turning them into the only ones they can hear.
Tuning out partners and discrediting team members is hardly the right approach to fostering meaningful relationships. To improve their relationships, leaders must find ways to limit their egos. How can executive coaching help them?
1. Adopting a Scientific Approach
Scientists dislike it when outside factors distort the results of their experiments. They prefer to think like they are ignorant, aware that their egos can create biases and sabotage their work.
Scientists build hypotheses, consider different perspectives, and try to remain objective. They put their conclusions through the filter of critical thinking and never accept results as true until someone else, using a potentially different approach, also confirms them.
2. Focusing on Empathy and Compassion
Executive coaching can help leaders focus on empathy and compassion proactively. Coaches can help leaders practice active listening and develop techniques through which they can limit the impacts of their egos.
Actionable steps leaders can take are:
- Not interrupting others
- Avoiding judgment of any kind
- Learning how to listen to understand others instead of listening to respond
- Understanding others in conversations
- Asking follow-up questions
3. Lowering the Defensive Walls
Our egos help us avoid disappointment and rejection. They builds protective walls that guard our emotional well-being. Proactively lowering this wall can marginalize the roles egos play in our interactions.
One of the goals of leadership coaching is to help students attain healthy ego-to-humility ratios. When they achieve this, they’ll find they’re more likely to compare themselves to their past selves than someone else.