“One is false pride—when you think more of yourself than you should. When this occurs, leaders spend most of their time looking for ways to promote themselves.
“The other is fear and self-doubt—when you think less of yourself than you should. These leaders spend their time constantly trying to protect themselves.”
Surprisingly, the root cause of both behaviors is the same, explains Blanchard in the July issue of his Ignite newsletter. The culprit? The human ego.
To help executives identify the ways that ego may be impacting their effectiveness as a leader, Blanchard often incorporates an “Egos Anonymous” session into his workshops and two-day intensives.
“The Egos Anonymous session begins with each person standing up and saying, ‘Hi, I’m Ken, and I’m an egomaniac. The last time my ego got in the way was …’ And then they share a false pride or self-doubt moment or example.”
EA sessions have become so popular with executives that some graduates of the Blanchard program use the technique to kick off meetings when they get back to their offices.
“They find it really helps their teams operate more freely. It’s very powerful when people can share their vulnerability and be more authentic and transparent,” says Blanchard.
“Ego is the biggest addiction in the world. So many people think of their self-worth as a function of their performance plus the opinions of others. But that’s a dead-end deal. When your self-worth is somewhere ‘out there,’ it’s always up for grabs.”
Start building good habits
For leaders looking to address the impact that ego may be having on their lives, Blanchard recommends asking yourself a couple of key questions:
- “Am I here to serve, or be served?” According to Blanchard, your answer to this question will reflect a fundamental difference in the way you approach leadership. If you believe leadership is all about you, where you want to go, and what you want to attain, then your leadership by default will be more self-focused and self-centered. On the other hand, if your leadership revolves around meeting the needs of the organization and the people working for it, you will make different choices that will reveal a more “others-focused” approach.
- “What are you doing on a daily basis to recalibrate who you want to be in the world?” “Most people don’t think about that,” explains Blanchard. “This could include how you enter your day, what you read, what you study—everything that contributes in a positive sense to who you are.”
“Consider your daily habits and their impact on your life. Take time to explore who you are, who you want to be, and what steps you can take on a daily basis to get closer to becoming your best self. Your leadership journey begins on the inside—but ultimately will have a tremendous impact on the people around you.”
To learn more about ego and how it positively—or negatively—impacts your development as a leader, join The Ken Blanchard Companies for a webinar on July 25—Don’t Let Your Ego Hijack Your Career—Four Warning Signs. This event is free, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.