Best of CoBiz: Check your ego at the door

Everyone knows someone with a narcissistic personality. Often, it is someone of power that shows the extreme symptoms of narcissism. Even a few leaders in the ancient world believed they were gods. I hope those times are done.

A narcissist, by definition, is a personality trait of egotism, vanity or simple selfishness. They have grandiose visions about their own importance and believe they are special. In a sense, narcissism is arrogance on steroids.

Well, these are not the type of qualities one typically looks for in a business leader. Many even say narcissists helped spurred the economic downturn, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

To become a leader, one must display talent and confidence in their abilities and role. But once one reaches so much success, too much ego could become toxic.

An abundance of ego can get in the way of managing. For instance, if you must have the last word on every decision, it may affect employee morale. You are preventing your people from growing, and it may keep the company from growing as well.

To be fair, some say that narcissistic leaders do tend to see the big picture and have a strong vision. I think most of us would agree, however,┬áthat narcissists’ strongest suit is not playing well with others.

A better way to approach leadership is to maintain a balance of self-confidence and humility.

While it has been said that life is a long lesson in humility, the sooner a leader comes to grips with their humility – the quicker they will become a better leader.

Keep in mind humility is not a weakness; it means that leaders fully align themselves with the organization’s mission and vision. Leaders that display humility tend to have more influence, attract better talent, and earn more respect. It’s not about the leader, but about the team.

And humble and authentic leaders do reach huge levels of success – just look at the careers of Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and General Mills CEO Ken Powell.

Burns was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The real story is not Ursula Burns. I just happen to be the person standing up at this point representing Xerox.”

So check the ego at the door, and you might just gain the respect of your employees.

Categories: Management & Leadership