We all have egos. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t and there is certainly a bit of ego in everything we do. Yet egos, especially those in overdrive, can be the biggest barrier to both leaders and team members working collaboratively and effectively.

Why do some people have trouble putting their egos aside and place what is best for their organizations, team members and stakeholders first? That is a difficult question to answer and the answer is certainly not the same for everyone. Egos are related to our need as humans to feel both special and in control at the same time. It is also easy for us to conflate being good at one thing with being good at everything.

Whatever the reason, when leaders let their egos get in the way, they begin to put themselves first. Their agenda, their status, their success and their gratification comes before everything and everyone else—especially their colleagues, those who are affected by their ideas and actions. In today’s work environment, where we must all work together to meet expectations and garner results, being led by someone who feels the need to be the center of attention can be the kiss of death.

As a leader, it is then critical to remain grounded, check your ego at the door and take constant stock of why you are doing what you are doing. Ask yourself: “are my decisions motivated by ensuring the collective success of my organization rather than my personal gain?”

Here are few tips to keep in mind when working on not letting your ego get in the way:

  • Understand your ego triggers—recognize situations that have caused you to put yourself first.
  • Practice humility and remember that it is team work that makes the dream work.
  • Seek honest feedback from both team members and stakeholders. Provide a space for those you trust and respect to evaluate your leadership.
  • Learn from others and seek out those whose skills you admire and respect.

By keeping your ego in check, modeling humility and putting success of your organization and team at the top of the list, you will increase your value as a leader and inspire others through your example.

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