Leadership Skills

Want to Be a Great Leader? Here's Why Personal Mastery Is the Single Best Place to Start.

Shayne Hughes, author of 'Ego Free Leadership,' shares the critical importance of emotional maturity for leaders.
Want to Be a Great Leader? Here's Why Personal Mastery Is the Single Best Place to Start.
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On this episode of the Thought Talk Podcast, Shayne Hughes, author of Ego Free Leadership: Ending the Unconscious Habits that Hijack Your Business, discusses the connection between personal mastery and leadership presence. 

What happens when leaders learn to step away from their aggressive egos and eliminate workplace politics? Personal mastery is our ability in any given moment -- particularly in moments of stress, conflict or challenge -- to show up and respond with our best selves, with our most creative and flexible capacity and strengths.

How do CEOs and C-suite executives contribute to office turf wars?

“One of the tragedies of workplace politics and turf wars is that nobody wants them, but we all get caught up in them and feel powerless about it,” says Hughes. “We assign blame to someone else, or the organization as a whole.”

The goal, according to Hughes, is for executives to learn to recognize ways they’re inadvertently and involuntarily perpetuating this dynamic. By becoming comfortable with self-diagnosing their contribution to the problem and talking about turf wars with their staff and colleagues in a more transparent way, they can begin to reduce the powerlessness people feel over it. 

How can you move away from reactionary actions when we feel stress?

“What tends to happen in moments of crisis or challenge is that we often feel our success threatened in some way, or we feel threatened by the conflict with the other person,” says Hughes.  

Hughes says that these situations tend to bring out our coping strategies, which are our reactive behaviors. In fact, in the moment when we most need our strengths and intuitions, we tend to show up with fight-or-flight behaviors or more inflexible responses. 

“The problem is that these responses are suboptimal, the moment we need them to be optimal. Personal mastery is learning to break out of that paradigm,” says Hughes. 

How can ego impact your personal brand? 

“What I see for myself, and also for a lot of clients, is that our authentic personal brand is about bringing our true selves, our thoughts, perspectives, and our feelings, to bear in a situation,” says Hughes.  

Hughes says that during moments of conflict and threat, however, our ego gets triggered and our preoccupation with our self-worth and what other people are thinking gets in the way of our true personal brand. Thoughts include:  

  • Are they being critical of me? 
  • Are they judging me?
  • Are they better than me? 
  • Are they trying to hurt me? 

The simplest definition of the ego is a constant preoccupation with our self-worth. So how can leaders overcome their focus on self and turn their attention outward? 

Hughes says it’s helpful to remember that blame is really a reaction of the ego. Try asking yourself, “If I didn’t spend my time blaming myself or others, what would my life be like?”

To learn more about the connection between personal mastery and leadership presence, check out this episode on the Thought Talk Podcast with author Shayne Hughes. 

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