By Andy Bailey
The book “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday continues to capture my attention, and I find myself referring back to the principles in the book as I go about my work with my member companies at Petra Coach. The “ego,” of course, refers to the conscious mind or what we typically call the “self.” A healthy ego can be a friend, but if you let it do all the talking, it can get you in big trouble in the business world.
Every day, I work with business leaders and their teams – so, people of all personality types – and help them plan for their companies’ success in the next quarter or year. I have observed first hand how those “egos” can get in the way of a company’s growth and development. For a team to run smoothly, all players need to be aware of their conscious mind, and how it is manifesting in the workplace.
Here are four steps to keep your ego from running amok in the new year.
1. Focus on the work at hand rather than the end goal.
If you’ve watched professional sports, you know that sometimes athletes can get ahead of themselves, focusing on winning the game rather than scoring one point at a time – and missing the mark in the process. I see it all the time in football when a receiver is already turning to head to the end zone before he’s actually caught the ball, and because of that, he misses the catch. The same idea can happen in business. When you’re only focused on getting that “win,” you can easily forget what steps you have to take in order to reach that goal. Stay focused. Put in the work and you’ll get where you’re going.
2. Practice humility.
Don’t go thinking you’re the one who “makes it all happen.” Yes, you need to take responsibility for your part of the work, and its okay to be proud of those achievements, but also recognize that others have a hand in your success too. When you show that you value the people around you more than just your own recognition, your team members will be much more inclined to collaborate with you and work towards your mutual success.
3. Take cues from those around you.
If we instinctively knew how to get our egos in check, the business world (and the world in general) would be a very different place. When the people you work with give you input, take it as a constructive step and consider all points of view before making a decision. There’s a lot to learn from everyone around you, regardless of the experience level, if you pay attention.
4. Keep everything in perspective.
The universe is a huge place and we are each only one miniscule part of it, so you’re already setting yourself up for failure if you think you or your work is any more important than anyone else’s. The key to being a genuine leader is to instill in your employees that they are all equally important to the success of the company. As soon as you paint yourself as “the Ruler,” you’ll lose the trust – and possibly the respect – of your employees.
It’s important to be ambitious in business and to work toward the goals you want to achieve. But, when your ego takes over and ambition becomes entitlement to the exclusion of other points of view, you’re in trouble. No matter how “powerful” you or your company is in the corporate sphere, don’t forget where you started, and leverage that humility to keep you focused and driven. With that mindset, you can achieve anything.
Andy Bailey is the author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability. He is CEO and head coach with business coaching firm Petra Coach and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scale Up movement. Visit his blog for more business and leadership insight.