They’re Not Angels, Part III

Ego Management. Enough has been written about the impact that an overactive ego can have on a business that it hardly seems necessary to spend time writing about it here. Yet, I feel it’s important to discuss a few of the more subtle ways our egos manifest themselves in a business environment and the impact this can have on a company.


There’s no question that having a strong sense of self is a requirement for running a business of any size. So, having a healthy ego in itself is not necessarily a bad thing.


It’s when your ego interferes with the decisions you make and the interactions you have with those in your company or when the needs of your ego take precedence over your desired business outcomes that it becomes troublesome.


One of the non-financial forms of compensation many owners take are the executive privileges they allow themselves as a result of their owner title. These can come in the form of small things like flexibility in their schedule or taking extended time off. Or they can come in more lavish forms that bend the rules of ethics and the law, such as claiming personal expenses as business expenses (lake homes, cars, toys, etc.) or hiding or misrepresenting financial information—none of which we ever advise our clients do in advance or condone afterward and all of which are examples of an owner’s ego interfering with the financial health and safety of their organization.


Another subtle example of an inflated ego is when you place your own time, priorities, and opinions ahead of the needs of the company, such as showing up late, or not at all, for scheduled meetings or appointments, thereby disrespecting others’ time.


Managing your own ego needs, recognizing when your business decisions are being overly influenced by them, and understanding how others perceive your actions is always a good starting point in building a company that can sustain growth without an overreliance on you. And while an outside observer is almost always required to help gain this awareness, it also requires the owner to be coachable.


Coachability. Tom Landry is credited with saying a good coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.


In today’s workplace we know that strong leadership is based on humility and a willingness to place our own interests secondary to the needs of the team and company.


You don’t need to look any further than the examples of all-star professional athletes, musicians, or business leaders to see the value that being coachable plays in achieving long-term success at the highest levels of any profession. Small business leadership is no exception.


Coachability starts with understanding that there is always something to be learned, that you do not have all the answers, and that the business you’ve created is the result of the decisions you’ve made—good or bad. It’s recognizing that you are not always the smartest person in the room and actually seeking out those who are smarter.


Being coachable involves having a clear understanding of your own strengths and the areas in which you need help, and then the willingness to seek and accept that help.

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