Saturday, February 11, 2017

Seven indicators that our ego may be getting in the way of our leadership


An overly inflated ego is one of the challenges of leaders who are often in their positions because they have seen success. The success that positions one for leadership can also be our subtle undoing when we allow it to feed our ego which has a voracious and unrelenting appetite. 

Most of us like to think that we are not conceited and yet that is the greatest conceit of all. However, we can be aware of signs that our ego (and conceit) are getting in the way of our own emotional health and leadership. Awareness can help us manage the appetite of our egos.

Being defensive or angry when we are challenged.
Defensiveness is nothing more than our ego screaming "don't challenge me because I am right" even when we are not. It keeps us from hearing truth and perspective from others leaving us with only our limited perspective. This is why the best leaders train themselves to be open to differing perspectives and cultivate a non-defensive attitude.

Being reluctant to delegate
An unwillingness to delegate is often our ego speaking: "No one can do this as well as I can." Actually, in most things others can do things better than we can but who wants to admit that! Healthy leaders do. In fact, they encourage others to find better ways of doing things in order to build better organizations. We may not realize it but an unwillingness to delegate can be a sign of an unhealthy ego.

Needing to always get our own way
Why would we need to always get our own way if not because our own self worth or conviction that we are always right reveals an overinflated and unhealthy ego? Healthy leaders desire to do the best thing to reach the desired outcome which has nothing to do with whether it is their way or not. Unhealthy egos demand their way regardless of whether other ways might be better.

Being jealous of the success of others
Whenever we become jealous at the success of another we ought to sit up and take note that we have an ego problem. Jealousy over the success of another is a sign that we believe their success in someway diminishes us! Only unhealthy and hungry egos react this way. These egos will resist hiring anyone who might outshine them in some area and is a dangerous trait.

Taking credit for success and deflecting blame in failure
This happens in ministry, in business, in politics and everywhere there are people. We love to overinflate our abilities and underinflate our weaknesses. Accolades feed our hungry egos and those same hungry egos don't want to admit failure so they deflect it to others. Healthy egos share success with the team and are willing to take responsibility for failure. Healthy egos never need to be fed at the expense of others in success or failure.

A critical spirit
Critical spirits can come from a need to build ourselves up by putting others down or an attitude of superiority - both of which are connected to unhealthy egos. If we find ourselves becoming critical we need to ask ourselves why we find a need to diminish rather than encourage others. An attitude of criticism is rarely a sign of a healthy leader and it usually has to do more with them than with those they are critical about.

Slowing down on learning and developing
How is this related to ego? It is an assumption that we no longer need to learn new things or put another way, we already know all that we need to know. That is a lie of our ego. If anything, the need to invest more time in learning is critical because our world is changing at an increasing rate. Humble individuals invest in learning while proud people feel they don't need to.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.



"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Five difficult transitions leaders must make as their organization grows


Organizational growth is not without its challenges, particularly for a founding leader whose role needs to change if he/she is going to transition their organization from the entrepreneurial  phase of leadership to a more mature and stable organizational environment. In fact, it is the ability and flexibility of the leader who determines whether this transition is successful or not. Below are five transitions that a leader must make but which are often difficulty for them.

One: Moving from solo leadership to shared leadership.
Founders are in charge! But, as the organization grows there must be a move to a shared leadership platform or a team at the top where the key senior leaders chart a course together. This does not mean that the senior leader does not keep some decision making prerogatives but it does mean that they begin to share key decisions with the key leaders who they need to be on the same page as them. This is highly advantageous to the senior leader as several sharp minds are better than only one.  But it can be difficult for the senior leader who is simply used to getting their own way.

Two: Delegating responsibility and authority.
No one's span of control is indefinite and part of leading a growing organization is the ability to delegate key responsibility and authority to trusted leaders. Delegating responsibility is usually not an issue but being willing to delegate true authority often is. After all the founder is the one who is used to keeping authority close to their vest, overruling others as they see fit and making decisions on the fly when necessary. But you cannot delegate responsibility without authority in a healthy organization and what comes with the territory when one does is that your subordinate may choose to get the job done in a different way than you would. After all they are not you. Being willing to delegate both authority and responsibility can be a scary but necessary step a founder needs to take.

Three: Flying at a higher altitude
Since founders are used to doing many things themselves they are comfortable being in the minutia of details as well as thinking through the larger picture. This works when an organization is small. It does not work as the organization becomes larger. Now there are others who are responsible for many of those details and a leader needs to get out of the way and allow others to do what they were hired to do. They in turn need to fly at a higher altitude and focus on those issues that they are best suited as the senior leader to focus on. Diving from ten thousand feet to intervene at 5,000 feet does not work in the long run as staff start to feel that they are not trusted and that their work is devalued or interfered with. But it can be very hard for founders to stay out of the way of others as they are used to being able to pop into any situation they choose to. As long as they do, however, the organization will not flourish.

Four: Meeting regularly with a senior team to drive the agenda of the organization.
In small, founder led organizations the founder often runs things by the seat of their pants with little organizational rhythm. After all the goal is simply to survive and not become one of the statistics of the many who don't. As the organization grows, however, there needs to be a shift to a more mature leadership environment and as other leaders are added, this includes a senior team that meets regularly and where the direction of the organization is determined. These meetings are not simply forums for the leader to tell others what they need to do (remember there is now shared leadership). Nor is it simply a forum for each member to update the others on what they are doing (remember the words shared leadership). Rather it is a place for the team to grapple together on short and long term issues that will help the organization grow and be successful. Because founders are not used to these kinds of meetings they can view them as an afterthought when in fact meeting regularly and having the right things on the agenda is crucial for success.

Five: Realizing that ego is the enemy
There is a book by that name and it is well worth the read! It is easy for founders to believe that they  have all wisdom - after all, it is they who got the organization to where it is today. If they believe that they are all wise, have the best ideas and wisdom or must have the final word on all matters they lack the personal humility to lead well and it is likely that other good people will not stay with them. Ego is often the nemesis of founders. In fact one of the functions of a senior team is to keep a leader from making foolish decisions! Humility gives a leader the ability to listen, take advice, hear things they don't want to hear, delegate authority, and keep themselves from messing it all up. The active practice of humility and recognizing the dangers of ego is perhaps the most crucial thing a leader must pay attention to - especially founders.

Growing an organization is exciting work if we are able to recognize the transitions that we must make in order for it to be successful.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.


"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."