Ego can be difficult to manage and measure, especially when associated with individuals in leadership positions, and it certainly matters regardless of your personal take on the issue. Paging through the internet's vast universe of blogs suggests that ego is one of the centerpieces of poor management and the first step toward losing the support and respect of employees.
There is plenty of validity to that perspective. This LinkedIn post from career development strategist Warren Frehse offers some provocative points on the matter, while this older article from Entrepreneur magazine highlights the dangers of ego. However, it can be tricky to balance confidence - which is necessary in leadership - with an omission of ego.
Let's first look at the dangers of ego in management and leadership, and then the ways in which leaders can be confident without falling down this path.
Problems presented by ego
Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker, a leadership training guru and executive director of About Leaders, recently published a blog post regarding her opinions on ego, and, they were not all that positive. She argued ego can quickly lead to major issues with listening and patience, and egoistic leaders might be more prone to feeling as though they have no reason to try to improve.
his makes plenty of sense - if a manager is overly confident, how could he or she see there is any need for self-improvement? Dr. Kay Whitaker went on to explain that ego in leadership can also lead to disruptive approaches to management that fragment teams and hinder employee productivity, and that those who succumb to this characteristic's negative impacts will rarely succeed as leaders.
The author did note ego is indeed important to help establish confidence and develop functional skills in young professionals, but that is where it needs to end. She asserted ego simply has no place in leadership.
The Business Group - a consulting firm - argues that confidence is critical at all levels of business - especially leadership. Second-guessing and a lack of definitive tone within management conversations with lower-ranking employees can lead to several issues, including those related to respect and even being able to believe in the leader.
So, managers must find ways to harness their confidence without allowing their egos to get in the way. Leadership training programs can often assist managers in striking this balance.