#165 – A Tiny Word, yet Potentially Huge Risks

In response to last week’s essay about Captains and Lieutenants, one of my readers wrote this very insightful reply: I used to think about this a lot, because I was always more comfortable as a lieutenant than as a captain. I pushed myself to be captain to satisfy my ego, but I was never really comfortable in that role. As a lieutenant, it’s easy for me to make my captain look good and to get everything done that needed to be done.

Food for Thought ~

In his reply is The Tiny Word With The Potentially Huge Risks. The word is ego. In contemporary use, as in the above example, it is synonymous with self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, self-respect. However, ego is also used as shorthand for egotism, when healthy self-esteem slides into self-interest, self-importance, boastfulness, or hubris. If a leader is driven by egotism, their effectiveness as a leader diminishes dramatically. Their egotistic behavior reduces their positive influence, so they rely primarily on power and authority. Sadly, their behavior frequently undermines their own talents and goals. I have seen careers, projects, departments, and companies nosedive due to a leader’s ego. Often they are neither liked nor respected. For the individual, it’s a lonely penance. For companies, communities, and indeed, our world, the costs of egotism are huge. We see the results depicted in the news media every day.

Question for the day ~

Is your self-esteem healthy and well-balanced with concern for others and the greater good?

In Closing ~

My recent and relevant column in the North Bay Business Journal is about your values as a leader and your organization’s values. Click here to read the article.