Check Your Ego At The Door

Remember that new manager who thought they knew it all? Never acknowledged their weaknesses? Always had a “mask” on and showed little vulnerability?

Stepping into a new leadership role can be daunting as expectations can be high. It is natural to want to jump in and take ownership of the role immediately – making decisions and taking action. It is also easy to let your ego take the lead. “I know what I’m doing here, they promoted me for a reason!” For new leaders, checking your ego at the door is something to be mindful of, as everyone around you knows you are new. It’s impossible to be effective at everything right away, so why pretend?

Here’s why you should check your ego at the door:

1. It builds trust – admitting what you don’t know helps build trust with your team and shows your human side, fostering a good connection from the start. Be careful, though, in how much you divulge. In Goffee and Jones’ well-known HBR article, “Why Would Anyone Want To Be Led By You?” they suggest that inspirational leaders selectively show their weaknesses. For example, admitting that you are somewhat disorganized demonstrates that you are self-aware (a good thing!). What you want to avoid is admitting a weakness that can be considered a fatal flaw. For example, a VP of Finance admitting they don’t fully understand discounted cash flow.

2. It isn’t about you – it’s about your team and the work. Be confident, yes, but be aware of your ego. Do you want to lead the project because it’s good for the enterprise or because it puts you in the spotlight?

3. It enhances collaboration – few people want to work for an egomaniac. Most of us appreciate a leader who is easy to collaborate with. Life is hard enough without having to constantly grind against the wheel at the office. Being easy to work with goes a long way in the eyes of your people (and the broader organization).

Be great today,

Ian