How Ego May Be the Enemy to Good Leadership

Justin Byrne

Ego (2)
​​“Our ego is our silent partner – too often with a controlling interest.” – Cullen Hightower

Over the course of 20 years working in recruitment, a person sees an awful lot. We’ve recruited for companies who employ hundreds of people; we’ve helped many exciting start-ups recruit persons number two, three, four and so on; we’ve worked with businesses of all kinds to flesh out their org structures and build successful, well-running teams.

Hierarchy is an interesting thing. Whether it’s a multi-million-pound corporation with a rigid structure or a smaller business feeling their way – sometimes in the dark – there are often instances where an over-inflated ego becomes apparent.

Could there be egos within your business which are inhibiting your leaders from operating at their absolute best? Have a read for a number of crucial aspects where it may be proving to have a negative affect at management level across your business.

Company Culture

When a manager’s ego is inflated, they’re going to lose touch with their employees, which will inevitably have a detrimental effect on company culture – simple as. As the ego grows, the team-feeling shrinks in turn; credit may be internalised rather than shared with the employees that helped along the overall path to success. All of the above can lead to a real disconnect between the leader and those they’re leading – meaning that the manager in question is not only unaware of and out of touch with company culture, but may even be building towards a less-than-positive one.

Decision Making

There comes a time where ego becomes too involved in making decisions, which can ultimately lead to bad ones. Think of your ego like a target – and don’t be surprised when people start using it as one. An inflated ego can leave an individual susceptible to manipulation through even the slightest suggestion from another team member or even fellow business leader; the need to be seen or perceived as always right, always in the know or even universally loved, for example, can sometimes result in decisions being made which don’t have the company or its people’s best interests at heart.

Continued Learning

Or a lack thereof. When an ego is overblown, the individual begins to think they know it all – even if subconsciously. Naturally, this leaves them less open to learning opportunities; to admitting their own mistakes, or looking for all of the answers instead of the one which fits what they want to believe. Ultimately, for a business to grow and progress, it needs to be learning consistently and adapting as a result – which might not be happening if you’re dealing with a particularly ego-driven manager in some function or another.

“Ego trip: a journey to nowhere.” – Robert Half

The truth is, an inflated ego usually comes as a result of ongoing success – which is what you want to see from those in management positions. But how to manage a healthy balance of the two?

I read another great quote recently: “The true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” With this in mind, it’s important to remind the owner of the ego in question that this is a team game. Have your managers check in with themselves regularly as to what – moreover who – contributed to the success of this day, week, month even. Having them show gratitude towards each individual (check out the “kudos project” for a great example of this) and the part they played can really help to keep those pesky egos in check, not to mention building engagement from their direct reports. Whilst there should certainly be pride in the part each manager personally plays in such successes, implementing such practices will reiterate humility and minimises space for an ego to grow more than it needs to.

Our Certus Graduate business here in London builds high-performing sales teams from the ground up; that means, managers included. We help you get the right leadership structure in place, with egos exactly where they should be. For more information about recruiting high-level graduate sales teams and the managers who look after them, get in touch today.