When Ego Is the Enemy Overconfident big mouths are not just bores at parties; they can harm your business

By Adam Callinan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A growth in confidence in a person who is experiencing success is a very normal human response. Yet there are significant differences in the ways individuals portray confidence that can have a dramatic and lasting effect on their future opportunities -- and some folks simply overdo it.

Perhaps you have sat down and had a conversation with someone who finds it necessary to incessantly tell you how awesome and successful he or she has been.

Want to know how to easily spot one of these ego-filled creatures so you can avoid working with them as employees, partners or clients? Here are a few items to pay particular attention to:

Related: When Overconfidence Backfires

They think they did all the work. Such individuals have racked up some success, yet they feel the need to take all the credit. Yep, they built the company with their bare hands, did all of the sales and marketing, ran the numbers every night until 2 a.m., emptied trash cans and even replaced the toilet paper rolls.

Be fearful of people who won't give recognition to those they surround themselves with. In fact, search for the opposite: Some of the greatest business and political leaders in history were completely opposed to taking credit for themselves and instead shifted it to their team members.

They think they're the smartest people in the room. Ever been around those folks who constantly talk about how smart they are or how stupid everyone else is? Look, if they have to tell others that they're smart, ethical or generous, it's pretty obvious that they're merely trying to convince themselves and could be the opposite.

Such individuals pose a serious risk to your business for multiple reasons. For starters, there's the fact that they probably won't be open to outside opinions or ideas, will always think they're right and even believe their own nonsense -- even if most others won't.

Related: Why Introverts and Comedians Make Great Leaders

They won't give up control. Everyone is familiar with control freaks or micromanagers. They feel that the only way to get something done is to do it themselves, which leaves their employees extremely unhappy and their own schedules dramatically overfilled.

Then there's the problem that results from their inability to properly train and delegate. Notice, I didn't say dump; there's a major difference. This is why their calendars are so mind-numbingly busy that they can barely function and feel the need to have their hands in every single project or process.

They talk but don't listen. It's common knowledge that people love talking about themselves. Furthermore, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People explains the importance of getting people to talk about themselves, particularly in a sales setting.

But the big-ego types tend to turn each and every conversation into a story about themselves. They may even go a step further and turn their story into one that is clearly better than yours. Their sense of ego makes them incapable of listening, which is bad in the office -- especially in a sales setting where success is largely built from one's ability to listen and understand, not simply respond.

Let's be clear; there is a difference between being confident and being overly egotistical. Do you want a hint about how to avoid entering that territory? Keep in mind one simple word that can keep your ego in check: humility. It really is the perfect solution for every occasion.

Related: Can You Lead by Listening?

Wavy Line
Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

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