Smart Leaders Keep Their Ego in Check and Listen In
Confidence is what helped you take your idea from a mere thought on paper to a full-fledged business. But the more successful your business becomes, the more likely you are to let your confidence become overwhelmed by your ego.
Although flexing that muscle may put extra cash in your pocket, it could also damage relationships with those around you, especially employees. Instead try putting the “I’m the smartest person in the room” aside when it comes to dealing with your workforce. Take these three tips into consideration to secure quality feedback from your employees and better collaboration -- and more favorable results:
1. Ask for input regularly. The collective intelligence of your team will generate more and better ideas than you can alone. And in today’s dog-eat-dog business world, innovation is not just an annual objective. It’s an everyday goal.
Whether your business is a five-person show or a Fortune 500 company, instill a culture that makes it desirable for ideas to be shared.
2. Listen first and then make decisions. Listening attentively is such a simple concept, yet this task is often poorly performed by business owners. You may be sitting next to the person giving you input and hearing what they are saying, but are you really thoughtfully considering their ideas? If you are, that’s listening.
Truly listening to other viewpoints can result in a healthy give-and-take and lead to your next great idea. But if your employees think you aren’t listening, they’ll stop giving you input. As the driver of your company’s growth, you have the final say-so but think twice before cutting off a useful well of ideas that could aid in critical business decisions.
3. Discover and practice emotional intelligence. It's for good reason that emotional intelligence is so buzzworthy of late. This is the ability to monitor your emotions and those of others to guide thinking and behavior. When ego takes the steering wheel, a leader might treat all situations the same.
Yet realizing that people respond to circumstances differently might be the key to retaining a star employee or resolving issues voiced by the workforce. An ego-driven person will have a hard time recognizing the complexities of each unique situation. Displaying empathy is a great way to discover and fine-tune your emotional intelligence.
Ego can have its place in business. But experience has shown that an ego-driven leader can create a dark cloud over a company's culture, resulting in the exits of high-performing employees or creating animosity among teams.
Putting these three tips into action is a start to shaking off your ego's excesses so you can most effectively lead your company.
Shirley Engelmeier is the founder and CEO of InclusionINC in Minneapolis. She champions workplace initiatives that improve business results through employee engagement and inclusion. She is the author of Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage and Becoming an Inclusive Leader: How to Navigate the 21st Century.