The ego is typically associated with self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. On the surface, all of these are important in developing your unique leadership style. While kept in harmony, each can support the pursuit of your career development goals. When running amuck like a wild horse, things can be very dangerous.
In the corporate world, the ego is associated with greed and power. It is the scapegoat for behaviors that lead to uncontrollable greed and power. Powerful leaders who have raked in enormous amounts of money for doing their job or as a golden parachute are almost always severely criticized. The ego is portrayed as somehow being separate and apart from the leader.
When we accept that the ego is a part of who we are, it is hard to defy that logic and imply it is involved in the pursuit of greed and power. The point is that we all have the ability to tame the ego and remain in the driver’s seat. When the ego is ignored or uncontrolled, it believes it has control over the actions we take in our lives. Leaders willingly and unwillingly give access to the ego to drive the car.
The damage that results in the ego being in the driver’s seat can be catastrophic. Leaders have lost their jobs due to greed and have made illegal decisions based on the power that they thought they had in their lives. The scandalous stories of leaders failing almost always have a connection to greed or power.
Sadly, there is an opportunity for leaders to avoid this pitfall if they are willing, to be honest with themselves about their actual self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. All too often they are afraid of losing everything so they protect it with their ego. The error in this judgment is that the ego in its natural state is unharnessed and unlimited in its quest for fulfillment.
There is a way to add some balance along with oversight to the role of the ego for the leaders. It is the soul that demonstrates leaders’ characteristics, attributes, and traits. The soul gets a lot less attention in the corporate world and as a result, is usually not brought up often enough. Leaders who live by a set of values will show them consistently to others, and in this way, people can see how it balances with the ego in controlling greed and power.
Throughout my 30s and 40s, I was a driven corporate machine striving to achieve more in my career. I was fortunate to not be affected by the ego with greed, however, power in the form of control was right up my alley. I strived to achieve more power and control in my career and thrived on it when I had it. I justified it in my life by convincing myself that I was not doing harm to others and after all, I was a generous leader.
I stopped lying to myself when I was in Bali in 2006. I invested a considerable amount of my three weeks on the island in dialogues and negotiations with my ego. By the time I left Bali to meet up with friends in Las Vegas, I was ready to test my newfound collaboration between my ego and my soul. Bali was the perfect place to establish this bond, and Las Vegas was the perfect place to test it.
As my life and career moved forward from that experience, I have consistently been in the driver’s seat keeping my eye on the role of my ego and soul to make sure they remain in alignment. Consistently does not mean 100% of the time and I accept that there have been times that the balance was upset for a period of time.
My key learning about my ego and my soul is that they are a part of who I am and I have a responsibility to live in alignment with my values that support each of them. With this in mind, my ego is not a scapegoat, and I take 100% accountability for my actions.
What is your ego telling you about your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth? What values are living within your character, attributes, and traits? Do you see the value in negotiating for the collaboration of your ego and soul? What might stop you from making a change in your life as a leader?
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