Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: Check Your Ego

Check Your Ego

A recent Marketing Ladders article written by Brandon Gutman, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Stephen-Bradford Search, an executive search firm, advised employees hoping to progress in their career to “check their ego.”

“Employees on the road to senior management need to lose their ego and practice the golden rule of how to treat others.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve spent my career in IT, an industry filled with very smart people who have every right to be proud of what they have done and what they are capable of. However, I’ve seen entire business groups fail in their mission because a leader has failed to check his or her ego.

These “leaders” insist on bludgeoning employees with their ideas until everyone just goes along to get along. The only time employees hear from them is when the ego-driven business leader has an issue with something and you know it’s not going to be pretty. “Thank you” is rarely spoken by these people and when it is, it seems disingenuous at best. Peers never know when they are going to be openly attacked in meetings. The list could go on.

Checking your ego doesn’t mean you have to be a nice guy all the time. Some of the toughest people in business are the most humble. It also doesn’t mean you have to lack confidence or show false modesty. Both of those traits are annoying in any employee and can torpedo an executives’ credibility.

To me, checking your ego means, treating people with a basic level of respect. It doesn’t mean that you have to accept mediocrity from fellow employees or that you can’t have healthy debates. But you need to approach every situation with emotional maturity. As the communications experts would tell you, “You can’t let how you say something get in the way of what you say.”

It also means that you have to accept that the group is smarter than any one individual – including you. Great ideas can come from anywhere.

The sad thing is that these individuals often succeed in their own roles because they tend to be very driven. I suspect that they are often driven by a fear of failure and their “unchecked ego” is actually more of a cover for feelings of self-doubt. For example, the sales executive with an unchecked ego exceeds his quota every time because he fears the humiliation that comes from not hitting 100%.

But while the business enjoys the success brought by this individual everyone around him or her is miserable. No one wants to follow a leader who doesn’t inspire them with anything more than a fear of failure. It makes me wonder what the rest of the business could achieve if this individual were not standing in the way.

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