While having a healthy ego can drive business owners to overcome obstacles, it can quickly become the enemy when left unchecked. Throughout my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that ego is dangerous, especially because it can hurt you not only when your business is struggling but also when it’s succeeding. It took me several years to figure out the harm my ego was doing to my business, my family and my well-being.
To avoid this harm, you have to check your ego. Constantly. Here’s how.
Check in With Yourself
More than 20 years into entrepreneurship, I still constantly check my ego. Four questions I ask myself every single day are:
- Am I listening?
- Am I acting with a servant’s heart or a selfish heart?
- Am I acting with dominance or grace?
- Am I taking 100 percent accountability for my actions?
I recommend that you run through a quick ego inventory checklist like this daily, too. After all, problems caused by an unchecked ego — such as dismissing the opinions and advice of other people to the detriment of your business — can sneak up on you.
Upskill Your Leadership Abilities
Ego can cloud your view of your leadership skills. This usually goes one of two ways: You either believe you’re above self improvement and don’t need to change anything, or you feel weighed down by the responsibility and don’t think you’re up to the task of being a leader.
Both are ego-driven problems, and both lead to ruin.
If you fall into the first camp, where your ego is telling you that you’re already the best leader you can possibly be, recognize it for the falsity it is. Everyone, no matter their title, can improve their leadership skills. Know that you and your team will be better off if you push your ego aside and invest in your leadership development.
If you’re in the “I can’t do this” camp, know that there’s hope. Don’t buy into the misconception that people are simply born leaders. Anyone can be a leader if they invest in growing as a person and professional. It might feel overwhelming in the beginning, but one of the best investments you can make is to dedicate time and a financial budget toward your own leadership development.
Ask for Feedback
Another trap your ego sets is telling you that you’re beyond reproach. You’re the business owner and people answer to you, so you’re the one who gives feedback, not the other way around.
Leaders tend to develop this mindset because employees are rarely willing to give the boss hard feedback. As a result, you may not realize there are problems until it’s too late.
Here are two ways to avoid falling into this trap.
Work With a business coach
Find a business coach who will help you increase your self-awareness. I’ve worked with the same coach for more than 12 years, and he’s helped me see my stumbling blocks clearly, both in my business and in my personal life. Oftentimes, the two bleed over into one another. A seasoned coach won’t be afraid to tell you the truth about what you need to work on.
Welcome employee feedback
Invite your team to give you regular candid feedback. How do they feel about a recent decision you made? Do they like your communication style? What do they wish you would do differently when it comes to setting meetings or expectations?
It can be scary to put yourself in such a vulnerable position, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to move past your ego and grow. Plus, I promise you this: Giving your team members space to be honest with you will strengthen your internal relationships and overall culture.
Your business is your baby, and you want to make sure everything is done to your standards. You don’t want to ask for help because you think you should look like you have all the answers. Does this sound familiar?
Here’s the truth: If you’re not delegating tasks or asking for help when your work piles up, you’re setting yourself up to fail. And, you’re missing out on some of the greatest perks of entrepreneurship, such as getting some time back in your day and learning from others.
So, as the business starts to take off and the money is flowing in, deliver on your strengths and delegate the rest. Also, be quick to ask for help from the right people. Build a stable of trusted advisors and ask them to help you see what you can’t. This will make you a much stronger leader.
Come Prepared To Lead
Having a healthy ego is necessary in business and in life, but it can become your biggest barrier to success if you don’t regularly check in with yourself, work on your leadership skills, invite feedback from your team, and delegate tasks based on individual strengths.
An unhealthy ego is a formidable opponent for entrepreneurs, but if you come to work (and to life) prepared, you can conquer it with ease.