I remember early in my career hearing that our current and past successes pave the way to our future failures. I understood it but never thought I would experience it. Life is a brutal teacher and our egos get in the way. Well, not sure about yours, but I can certainly speak from my personal experience and from the experience of coaching executives.
In five years, from 2003- 2008, I lost $500,000 in profit losses and increased debt because I was convinced that my way was the right way. In fact, I was so convinced that even when others in our industry were telling me different, my ego said, “Well, I will show them,” painful yet valuable. For example, one of the costs was in expanding our office space for 7 years. I paid an extra $4,000/month in rent because of my ego…hmm! I will do the math for you…I spent $336,000 in rent for office space that created no absolutely zero value. This month, October 2013, my lease is finally being renewed and the space downsized to the appropriate cost for our business. What is frustrating is that this is a lesson I may never learn unless, by choice, I choose to lead myself and others differently. Ah yes, it is all about who I am choosing to become as a leader.
Two weeks ago I heard the same definition of the word ego from two different sources so I think maybe it was meant for me. EGO is an acronym for “Edging God Out.”
In the past 5 years I have worked with several companies where I saw the “ego” in the executive teams seemingly be crushing to the organization. For example, I can think of two specific situations. In one case the overall organizational performance was impacted, and in the second case, the company was losing market share. Both outcomes were hurting bottom-line business results which resulted in a decrease in dividend payouts. From the outside it seemed so clear in both cases. It is the ability to let go of past successes and become innovative in paving a new way to meet market demands and unleash employee talents. Unfortunately, the egos of executives, even mine, challenge the future successful implementation of new business strategies that will allow us to win in the marketplace.
Here are six challenging EGO questions for all leaders to consider:
- Why is my way the right way?
- Why can we not entrust others who are empowered to make the right decisions?
- Why do we always have to question other decisions that are below our pay grade?
- Why do we desire to control all outcomes?
- Why do we waste time making decisions for people who we are paying to make those decisions?
- Why do we allow ourselves to get sucked back into roles we either have left years ago or have out grown do to our position or experience?
Human Relation Principle of the Week:
Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
– Dale Carnegie