Overcome outsized ego and the need to do it all

published by the Nashville Business Journal

Two of the biggest obstacles to good leadership practices are an outsized ego and a reluctance to delegate. 

Stay humble, stay successful
We are not born with big egos but they can develop over time if we are not careful and well disciplined. Inflated egos often expand slowly with a big success or two, and confidence grows a little faster than it should. With continued success, ego can bloat even further and truly distort self-image. At this point, you are most likely going to alienate some of your key associates and maybe even lose a few friends. 

At the same time, people often tell egoists what they think they want to hear, and sooner or later show boaters become isolated from reality. I recall one sad case where a CEO stopped eating in lunchroom in favor of a private dining room; then stopped driving his car in favor of a company limo; and then hired a bodyguard. He became so out of touch that his entire company began to stumble as a result. His days were numbered. 

The antidote to an inflated ego? Never let your success go to your head. We are all human. We all achieve in exceptional ways. Keep your victories to yourself or graciously accept praise from others who acknowledge your success. My advice is simple: Stay humble, stay connected and stay employed.

Delegate your way to success
The fastest way to turn off your people is to become a micromanager. Like the ego, this kind behavior, such as monitoring every employee action and criticizing work, can creep up slowly. Don’t let it. Micro-managing sends a clear message of distrust, and in that environment there is typically little or no teamwork, zero creativity and high turnover. That is a guaranteed trajectory to failure. 

The antidote to micromanagement? Build trust by delegating. Start by surrounding yourself with the right people. Then set clear direction, provide only essential support and keep your message consistent: “I trust you.” Follow this approach and you will earn the respect of your team, and results will follow. 

Empowered people will put forth the ideas to help business prosper, often becoming the leaders of the future. And you can set that in motion. When leaders delegate effectively they have time to do what leaders are supposed to do—look over the hill and around the corner—not over shoulders. 

Remember, a big ego will isolate and micromanaging will alienate. Stay humble, delegate effectively and you will find the right kind of success.

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