“Ego leadership is outdated because it generates behaviors that are no longer tolerated in today’s workplace.” Peter Margaritis
Vulnerability, empathy, and the willingness to let go of our ego matter when it comes to developing the kind of leadership capacity our employees, peers, and other stakeholders deserve from us. Crucial to the development of dynamic, admirable leadership is learning to communicate in a way that doesn’t negate the experiences of others.
Listening and presence exercises can kick your leadership into hyperdrive when added to the ‘yes..and’ collaborative approach. The sense of not knowing when someone is looking intently at us for an answer is hard for all of us, but it’s especially difficult for leaders with overdeveloped egos. One of the biggest challenges in leadership is, by and large, the perception that not knowing is a sign of weakness. Instead of driving their egos crazy during these moments of ignorance, leaders should lean into the not knowing, stop talking, and listen to their team for direction and vision.
Exercise two is talking without ‘I’, an Improv exercise demonstrating how to park your ego. Each player tries not to use the words ‘I’, ‘me’, or ‘my’, and instead responds to the other person using ‘we’ or ‘us’. This exercise aims to help us park our ego, so we can collaborate with our partner using the general philosophy ‘Yes… and.’ The idea is to develop stronger self-awareness about the degree to which your everyday language and decision-making might be, by default, a little bit more self-centered than you realize.
Exercise three is ‘thank you’, which demonstrates how to park your ego and show gratitude. This exercise aims to show gratitude to the other person for the information they are providing. The more we offer appreciation, the more the other person appreciates our efforts. Learning to accept praise with a ‘thank you is also valuable and can be a sign of humility.
Sometimes good people with decision-making authority just make bad decisions. When difficult situations arise, the ego can take center stage, but doing the work to minimize the role of your ego when we lead will ultimately take us to a place of more effective leadership.