by Judy Ryan
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and, in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.”
The notion of ego is often used to describe harmful expressions of ego. We all know people in power who abuse it, coerce with it, wield it for their singular advantage, and wound and destroy with it, whether at work, home or in the community. Yet ego is a powerful and essential part of who we are AND it’s only as helpful or harmful as you allow it to be. Ego is tied to your power and life force. Chances are you have a significantly assertive and creative ego if you are reading this article as a business owner who is responsible for selling something and managing a team. The quality of your ego is directly connected to the short and long-term effects you create. I wrote this article to encourage you to examine the helpfulness or harmfulness of your ego because your results depend on it and make all the difference to the success and happiness of you and everyone whom you influence.
When I work with leaders to uncover their purpose and ask them what they most want to cause in the world, they often say, “I want to make an impact.” I reply, “You mean like Hitler?” Of course, the latter question generally gets a chuckle, but the exchange is designed to make obvious a lack of conscious choice regarding what specific impacts they want to create. No matter whether we are exercising our ego consciously or not, we are making impacts every second of our lives. Here are several types of leaders who have egos that are neither positive nor helpful:
Charismatic leaders: People who lead from self-image and the sheer force of their personalities. They tend to appear as larger-than-life heroes, but often they have no commitment to develop others or create systems for lasting change--or even joint benefit. They rally initial success but fail to ensure its sustainability. They are too self-focused.
Transactional or autocratic leaders: People who use rewards and punishment to motivate behavior. They focus on getting what they want, not providing others with what they want or need. They are too self-focused.
Laissez-faire leaders: People with a hands-off approach who rarely instill curiosity or offer structure and support. This approach results in disengagement and a lack of caring among the team due to a culture of neglect. They are too self-focused.
Powerful, Positive, Helpful Egos
What does a leader with a powerful, positive and helpful ego look like and cause? They care about others. They are:
Transformational leaders: People who inspire followers through effective communication and creation of environments that promote intellectual stimulation, emotional intelligence and innovation. They operate from purpose, values and vision first, and they develop potential in every person while making sure each person’s needs are met.
Servant leaders: While this concept can sound like role reversal, these are people who willingly share power and support collective decision-making. They invite all team members to co-influence vision and direction.
Participative leaders: These are people who welcome all employees to participate, exchange ideas freely and set direction together. While participative leaders make final calls, everyone has a voice, which encourages a wide range of solutions because everyone’s ideas are considered.
The work of LifeWork Systems is fostering the growth and development of leaders who exercise powerful, positive and helpful egos. These are people who are unafraid of creating other leaders or worried anyone can surpass them. They enjoy conditions favorable to all, not solely for their own pleasure, ease or gain. Let me know if I can help you identify ways to guide and inform your ego to be highly helpful and to provide you with necessary systems that will allow you and your people to operate within a lifegiving, game-changing organization that achieves extraordinary outcomes.
Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!