Is Ego Killing your Business?
If you run a business, you do need to have a certain amount of self-belief – after all, you will come across plenty of people who don’t like what you do, or even think you’re crazy to try. However, if you take it too far and let your ego take over, you could genuinely be impacting on your company’s bottom line, which of course is going to make your job harder and more stressful. Even if your company survives, you may find that once you leave, you were such an enormous part of the business that the whole thing just falls apart.
Is this just bad luck, or is it because of self-obsession, ego, focus on maintaining control and of enjoying high status?
What is the ego?
There are many different definitions of the ego but you could think of it as the part of us that feels the need to be special. It’s that part of us that seeks approval, so of course by that definition it is a part of us that feels lacking in some way.
The easiest way to determine if your ego is at play is to ask one of these two questions:
* Do I feel superior to others?
* Do I feel inferior to others?
The bad news is that if you answered yes to either of these, then your (very contradictory) ego may be driving some of your decisions. Taken to extremes, an over-powerful ego can be disastrous:
An example is General George Armstrong Custer in 1876, who famously said: “There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry”. I wonder how that went for him?
So how can you avoid developing a super-crazy ego and putting your company (and your stress levels) at risk? When you start to feel that ego rising, try remembering these:
There is no “I” in Team
OK, no apologies for using this slightly clichéd saying, because it is absolutely true. TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. Stop looking at yourself (or talking about yourself) and start focussing on other people. Do you want credit for something good you did? Well get over it and stop feeling jealous – you’re the boss. Instead, give someone else the praise. Surely the ultimate credit for you is that the business is performing better?
If your ego is threatening to take over, break your regular thought pattern and think of something stupid or funny – a joke, a comic character, a favourite comedian. Anything that makes you smile (or even better, laugh) will stop your ego monster getting the upper hand. If you can’t, then just walk away for a minute or two – go outside, breathe, calm down.
Do not put others down
You might not even know you are doing it, but if you are being overly critical, focussing too much on negative issues or using a subtext to confuse or undermine people, then that could be your ego at work. Another sign could be that you criticise others when things go wrong (especially if it is not their fault, or you just didn’t get your own way). Genuinely, if it is not a big deal, ignore it – the chances are everything will sort itself out. If it’s important, deal with it, but in a non critical way. People will appreciate it.
Don’t forget the big picture
By focussing on the big goals and objectives, the little stuff can be safely kept in perspective. If your team is happy they are much more likely to be productive (which of course is better for business). If your ego is too powerful, it is going to impact on your stress and fear levels and this is not good news for your team or your business. So regularly take time to refocus on what matters the most.
Has this been useful? I would love to know what strategies you have for dealing with ego problems
Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year.
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