Do you know of anyone who has suppressed bad news to preserve his or her career or reputation?
Or told the boss what they wanted to hear instead of the truth?
Or overlooked a red flag to preserve the sense of harmony in the workplace?
Most often ego is catalogued as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but what if ego is simply about your relationship with yourself? At the heart of the matter your ego, your self-esteem, self-worth and personal sense of security, chaperones your decision-making.
Does the business culture have an impact on your ego?
It’s absurd to pretend that the business culture doesn’t impact on how safe you feel in your workplace. Companies that treat employees poorly, like replaceable widgets without respect for talent or contribution, raise their risk exposure by ignoring or depleting creative potential. If a company is in that messy transformation between telling, selling and yelling as a management style to a more creative, innovative and prosperous modus operandi, you might be willing to forgive the lack of clarity. But only you can upgrade your relationship with your ego and move from comparing yourself to others (as better, smarter, cheaper, faster, taller), to being secure in yourself. Only then can you bring your whole self to working with others to achieve a shared and common goal.
How does your ego expose itself in decision-making?
At its lowest, ego-based decisions are exposed when someone in authority takes credit for other’s ideas, or treats employees as lesser beings, in a demeaning way, for instance. Decisions are driven from an unknowing need to find and keep security. In contrast, n a more evolved state where you have a strong relationship with your ego, you’re secure in yourself and your abilities, willing to trust others, and are open to learning. Needing to have control over others reflects a poor relationship; working with others in service to a humungous goal, characterizes the stronger relationship.
What happens when you answer these questions?
- Do you say yes to everything you’re asked to do regardless of the implications on your personal life? If the answer is yes, you might seek approval or fear conflict. Gain greater confidence by strengthening your self-worth.
- Do you put other people down in order to feel more important? If yes, your sense of power is based on use of authority instead of your self-value or self-worth. Trust in your value and then you can extend the same trust to your co-workers.
- Will you avoid conflict at any cost? If yes, the truth will be sacrificed for sustaining a false sense of harmony. Risk is magnified when bad news isn’t used to alert decision-makers. Exercise your leadership abilities. Find the courage to speak your truth. If you’re afraid of losing your job because others have before you, you’re working for a company that is managing itself to its demise. Do you want to be on that ship?
- Are you afraid of making a mistake or of letting people down? If yes, then strengthen confidence in your abilities and release the need for perfection. Trust in your creativity and ability to adapt.
Your ego looks after your safety and security in the big world so when you don’t feel safe, you’ll unknowingly allow your ego to decide. When you do feel safe, you’re not distracted by fear of losing something and can concentrate on the bigger picture. A strong relationship with your ego, delivers considerably more fun because you’re operating at a highly level of functionality and you’re not spending cleaning up the mess left behind from torched trust and relationships.
The question is: Do you have the courage to invite those dark skeletons out of the closet and get to know them? It’s an important question because the strength of your personal sense of security: financially, emotionally, ethically, personally, all contribute to the strength of your decisions because you’re aware of the underlying motivation.
Are you up for leadership growth?
Transformational leaders have a habit of boldly striding over to meet your shadow sides, greet the skeletons, get to know yourself from every angle so you can strengthen your comfort with being in your skin.
Strengthening your relationship with your ego is a pivotal touchstone toward leading in a complex and highly unpredictable world where the only thing you can control is how you respond to the unexpected. As one of my CEO clients used to say, “I don’t mind dealing with issues. It’s the ones I create that piss me off.” So get pissed off and then do a meet and greet.
Have a conversation with your skeletons.
- Invite the skeletons you have in your closet out for coffee one at a time, otherwise they’ll all want to talk at once. What happened to your skeleton friend? Why? (What were the circumstances?)
- Agree with your skeleton friend on what you’ve both gained from the whole experience? Conduct a post mortem to identify strengths you see in yourself now, that you didn’t see before? Hint: There has to be at least 1 or more answers to this question.
- Knowing what you now know, given the same scenario what would you do now? Partner up with your skeleton colleague to put newly gained understanding into action. The circumstances may be precisely the same, but how you’ll handle will be totally different.
Your relationship with your ego is the fulcrum for advancing your capacity to use uncertainty to personal and business advantage, create workplaces that work for employee engagement and to reduce the risks created by decisions that come from a poor relationship with your ego. The business world has a distinct shortage of transformational leaders and the first step on the journey to lead like one is to learn from your past so you don’t repeat the same old patterns. Though they might look naked and scary, the skeletons in your closet will develop your personal sense of security and safety on every level.
How will you know? You’ll attract far healthier and happier relationships with a lot less drama and a lot more fun.
©Dawna Jones, 2015 From Insight to Action Publications