How Oversized Ego Could Kill Your Business

“Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door. The name of the game is to lead without a title.” – Robin S. Sharma

We have all craved personal recognition from childhood. We once strived to be the first on a math or judo competition to receive applause from our parents, and that ambition has remained even today, in the office. People are led by that very same applause, which defines what they want to achieve.

However, the drive for success and recognition can monopolize your thoughts and begin distracting you from doing important work. Then, stop considering the rest of your work team while trying to achieve your ego-driven goals. Here is how an oversized ego can put great obstacles to your work.

1. Relying on Yesterday’s Answers

People rely on their past experiences when making current decisions, according to the research by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. When faced with familiar situations with limited information, drawing from experience can be very helpful. However, it can also blind you to new information and facts. In spite of you being an industry expert, your past solutions may no longer fit if you’re dealing with market changes or new technology. You need to recognize that the problem can’t be solved with the old answers.

2. Associating Learning with Weakness

A leader is not required to have all the answers all the time. However, many leaders do think so, and they start associating learning with weakness.

You can’t know everything. Especially today, when things change fast.

If you don’t keep asking questions, you won’t be able to adapt to changing business conditions and new circumstances. Pretending to know something about a unique situation won’t help you in any way.

3. Having an Outsourced Definition of Success

Do you want to find the right solution to a problem that’s unfamiliar? Of course. But, you need to understand that some mistakes will be made before you have the answer. The choices of self-focused leaders are driven by the desire to maintain external measures of success. They make decisions that will lead them to personal gains or a higher bonus. The choices may not be in the best interests of their employees. An egoistic leader never feels fulfilled and stays in a job that pays well, even though it makes them miserable.

4. Considering Innovation Too Risky

Some leaders will stop new ideas and innovation from happening, due to the fear of risk or failure, that their business growth will slow down, or end (in some cases.) But innovation does require making a lot of mistakes until you’re able to embrace it. It also thrives only in environments where people feel free to experiment and explore ideas. As Bill Gates said, “Once you embrace unpleasant news not as a negative, but as evidence of a need for change, you aren’t defeated by it.”

5. Taking Things Personal

People around you will show resistance when you’re doing something new. However, failures tend to be very personal when ego leads the way. When you assume that your employees don’t like you or your ideas, you slow down progression. Instead, you should try to understand whether a plan wasn’t packaged well or had limited interest at that time. Setbacks should be managed and expected.

External measures are short-lived concerning satisfaction. A promotion or a salary increase will motivate you only for a little while. On the other hand, having a larger purposed, and end-goal is more sustainable. All leaders want success. But if you’re going to be a great leader, don’t focus on YOUR success but EVERYONE’s success. It will help you build a better and healthier community, organization, and business.

With a team of expert leaders, Blackhawk Partners offers advisory services to help you become a great business leader. Defining and maintaining company character and culture is at the core of our guiding set of principles.

We hope to always be your trusted source for capital creation and investment guidance. Now that you know, go and create your empire and put your ego aside. To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.


Written by

Ziad K. Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc., a private family office that backs accomplished operating executives in growing their businesses both organically and through acquisitions and trades physical commodities – mostly oil derivatives – throughout the world.