Got room on your team? Not if this person already has a seat

What’s one of the biggest barriers to people working together effectively? “The human ego,” according to Dr. Ken Blanchard, best-selling business author and co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

As Blanchard explains, “When people get caught up in their ego, it erodes their effectiveness. That’s because the combination of false pride and self-doubt created by an overactive ego gives people a distorted image of their own importance. When that happens, people see themselves as the center of the universe and they begin to put their own agenda, safety, status, and gratification ahead of those affected by their thoughts and actions.”

That’s a deadly combination in today’s business environment where organizations need people to work together collaboratively.  If you think that ego might be taking up a seat on your team and holding back everyone’s effectiveness, here are three ways to recalibrate:

  • Be a learner: The first way to recalibrate an overactive ego is by becoming a continual learner. Whether you’re a leader or an individual contributor, you need to be open to learn from other people and to listen to them. As Blanchard explains, “If people think they’ve got all the answers and don’t need any help, they’re not likely to be interested in collaborating.” That’s why having an attitude that you don’t have all the answers and you’re open to learning is so important. “None of us is as smart as all of us,” explains Blanchard. “This really means that one plus one is a lot bigger than two.”
  • Be courageous in your selection of team members:  Seek out people who have skills and energy that are different—and preferably superior— to your own.   So often people are afraid to work with teammates who possess superior skills.  Resist the urge to be the smartest person in the room.
  • Build a shared purpose: Finally, the third key to achieving healthy organizational collaboration and minimizing individual ego is to rally people around a shared vision—something bigger than themselves. When everyone shares a clear sense of purpose, process, and practice, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.

Don’t let egos get in the way of your team’s success. Your ability to overcome these self-serving tendencies will determine to a large degree your ability to work effectively with others toward a common goal.

Would you like to learn more about working together collaboratively and creating teams that work?  Here are a couple of additional resources:

Why Teams Fail—and What to Do About It (new article by Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew in latest edition of Human Resource Executive Online)

Ken Blanchard on the Power of Collaboration (a free, one-hour, on-demand webinar recording featuring Ken Blanchard)

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