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High Competence, Medium Ego, Low Maintenance

Courtney Lynch, October 7, 2019

How to Be a Post-Ego Leader

I was recently talking with a colleague about what it takes to succeed in a demanding role. She shared that she thought the successful leader would have, “high competence, medium ego and be low maintenance.” I chuckled at her witty criteria for doing well in a high-profile position. I clearly understood the high competence and low maintenance parts, but I questioned her about what she meant by medium ego. She said, “Well, you have to have enough ego to know that you are capable and can confidently get the job done. That amount of ego gives you courage to try.”

I often come across professionals who are high ego and high maintenance to the point that it becomes a barrier to their competence. They consider themselves very important and at times believe their needs are the most important ones. This mindset isn’t consistent with being an effective leader. Leaders who are “post-ego” care more about solving problems and helping others succeed than being recognized for their greatness. They are willing to sacrifice personal wins for team victories.

I believe that our world needs more post-ego leaders and I challenge you to become one. Consider incorporating the following into your leadership style:

Shift Your Focus Away from Personal Accomplishment. It’s very easy to get caught up in the pursuit of status, notoriety and prestige. Post-ego leaders are beyond that chase. They have moved past the need to be affirmed by achievement, though they once may have experienced a season of life where climbing the ladder of success and experiencing “look at me” moments was a thrilling pursuit. Being able to REFLECT on your past and recognize the times when your life was oriented toward personal accomplishment is a key attribute of being “post-ego.”

Be Others-Centered. I’ve observed that leaders who are truly beloved by their teams are the same people who share with me that they find life a more satisfying, joyful experience when they are OTHERS-CENTERED, instead of self-centered. One CEO described it like this, “I have much more resilience to deal with inevitable setbacks and failures because I care more about the success of others than myself. It’s not personal anymore. I know that the lows are just a part of what you have to go through to lead people to a better place and a better level of performance.”

As leaders, confidence is important. Be cautious though, there is a fine line between a healthy amount of ego and arrogance. Challenge yourself to truly elevate the importance others have in your life. When you find that you are leading purely for the good of the team, magic happens.

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