The Single Biggest Cause of All Leadership Failures …
Nearly 46 years ago, Kellogg’s released the first television commercial for Eggo® brand frozen waffles. The commercial shows an Eggo® waffle popping out of a toaster which is immediately grabbed by a father and son simultaneously while they both repeat the phrase “Let go of my Eggo!”
The Eggo® waffle made a recent comeback with the success of the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things, where they were highlighted as the preferred breakfast food of the character Eleven in the series.
So what does this Eggo® resurrection have to do with leadership?
Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that if you drop one of the g’s in the word Eggo®, you will find the single deadliest cause of almost every leadership failure in the history of mankind. Yes, that would be…the ego!
Herod the Great, Attila the Hun, Emperor Nero, Genghis Khan, Henry VIII, General George Custer, Napoleon, Robert S. LBJ, Nixon, Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong, and 1000’s of others failed miserably because of their inability to let go of their egos and swallow a dose of humility. And in doing so, caused great harm and in some instances, death to thousands and in some cases, millions of people.
History seems to have taught us little about the importance of a leaders’ ability to tame their egos. From the continued arrogance in Washington, to the world of professional sports, to the halls of corporate america, ego’s continue to run rampant and damage others. Even the religious world has not been left unscathed by this escalating epidemic of ego-mania.
And yet, isn’t true that most people believe that two characteristics of some of the world’s most influential leaders are being first and foremost other-centered, and second, having a certain modicum of humility?
So how does a leader begin to, “Let Go of My Ego?”
First you have to understand what letting go of one’s ego doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean you stop taking action, give up, rollover, play dead, or turn into a doormat and let everyone walk all over you. That is the core reason most people fear letting go of their ego’s because they fear they will become lazy, unimportant, a slacker, a nothing, a big zero, or a homeless person on welfare? After all, if they don’t run the world … who will? They also fear that if they don’t get their own needs met first they will not get them met at all. All of which are just the beliefs we hold that all at their core … ego driven.
Second, you have to understand what it does mean. It means that you take yourself out’ve the center of the universe and put the needs of others ahead of your own, which does take a certain amount of humility. The truth is that if you help others get their needs met first, your needs will met far more than if you focused on yourself. For example, if a leader has a need to get results, ithey will get higher levels of productivity if they focus on helping their people get what they need to do their best work first!
You just have to decide … either it’s time to “Let Go of Your Ego” or it’s not. Once you make that decision here are a few more steps you can take to move forward towards being an even more influential leader.
10 Steps You Can Take To Let Go of Your Ego?
- Decide that your constant striving to feel self-worth and value by winning, being right, seeking pleasure, getting ahead, buying a new toy, buying a new anything, proving your better than everyone else, constantly comparing yourself to others is futile because it is an insatiable need that can never ever be met externally for any length of time.
- Accept the reality that being a great leader has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the folks you are responsible to lead.
- Let go of the idea that you are the central point where the accountability, ownership, and impact of the work comes from and wake up to the fact that it’s not you, it’s your people and your team.
- Be open to the idea that your well established beliefs, thought patterns, past experiences, upbringing, and education might be the the major cause for your unwillingness to let go of your ego. Open yourself up to the idea that this might be true.
- Make sure you fully comprehend the critical difference between humility and humiliation, they are diametrically opposed and yet confusion or misunderstanding between which is which causes great angst among a lot of leaders.
- Commit to step-back and create a space for your team members to rise up and take more responsibility and ownership for the work they ‘re doing.
- Look at the behaviors of others that bother you most, ask yourself what is it about that behavior that you find most disturbing and label it (arrogance, pride, selfishness, etc.) Then ask yourself where those behaviors play out in your interactions with others. This is one place where it truly is about you!
- Start having conversations with your people about what is working about their job and what isn’t. Then discuss a plan for them to start moving towards how they can achieve more purpose and meaning from their work and move further down their career path.
- Make a list of what you love about being a leader and all the things that you don’t. Then seriously reevaluate your results by sitting down with a mentor, a coach, or someone whose business acumen and judgment you trust implicitly, and ask them what they see.
- Make a list of all of your relationships (business and personal) that are not working. Start working down the list by asking yourself what you may have done to contribute to the demise of the relationship and then what you could do to improve the relationship going forward, regardless of whether or not they buy-in.
You can read all of the best business books in the world, you can be one of the most intelligent, well read, & knowledgeable leaders in the world, you can attend leadership development programs at Harvard, Princeton, & Yale, and unless you can get past your ego and get over yourself, you will never reach your highest potential or bring out the highest potential in others.
You don’t have to do all 10 of these at once you can start with just one. As with all things, Step 1 might be the best place to start…start there!
If you want to achieve Extraordinary Results and learning how to more powerfully influence others you may want read this (click here)