Our egos are like a two sided coin. On one side of the coin, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an ego in business. Your ego can help you to get in touch with your strengths and weaknesses, set healthy boundaries, and create expectations of personal performance. It can also give you the confidence to believe and to know that you can make a positive impact in the world, because if deep down you don’t really believe in yourself, then no one else will, either.
But this coin has a flip side. The problems begin when feeding your ego gets in the way of fulfilling your goals, working effectively with others, or staying in touch with market trends. This in turn puts even the most promising business idea at peril.
Don’t wait for that to happen! Though real, personal change is a slow and constant process, the journey begins with awareness. Below are four signs that your ego is getting in your way and holding you back from being your best business self:
1. Every threat to the business is a threat to you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a sense of pride and ownership in your work and in your business. But, when your business starts to become an extension of yourself, then every perceived threat to the business is seen as an attack on you. So for example, if someone- whether it is a peer, employee, or a customer- is critical about an aspect of your business, you take it personally. Feelings of responsibility and accountability to the business and those it serves get pushed aside in the name of self-preservation.
2. Mistakes aren’t in your vocabulary. To admit a mistake means to admit failure, and your ego just won’t allow that to happen. As I’ve mentioned here before, every mistake you make is a learning opportunity. It allows you to get valuable feedback and see important details that may have been previously hidden. With this information, you can make better decisions in the future and get closer to what you want to accomplish.
3. You don’t want to learn from others. A false sense of pride and constant, though hidden, second-guessing may cause you to see yourself as greater, bigger, or more knowledgeable than you actually are. When business owners see themselves as the center of the universe, they begin to put their own agenda ahead of others. With this dynamic in place, receiving any feedback that runs counter to that agenda is seen as a threat.
4. You don’t give up control. You have the last word in every decision, no matter how small, and are constantly getting into fights and power struggles at work. Of course, as a business owner, it is quite natural and beneficial to be involved in the business’ day to day decisions- especially at the beginning. But as the business grows and matures, your focus has to move to the major decisions, such as setting business strategy, recruiting and engaging talent, and keeping tabs on the market.
If you avoid delegating responsibilities for fear of losing control, then you will end up stifling employee innovation and creativity. This can lead to a very unhappy workplace, which can jeopardize your ability to hold on to talented and motivated employees.
So, if you get anything out of this article, then let it be this: your ego is a tool. You can use it to build up yourself, your business, and those around you, or you can let it be a wrench in the system. The choice is up to you.