How big is your ego? Too big? Too small? Just right?
We’re probably not the best judges of our own ego and whether it’s the right size to be a great leader. After all, our egos would get in the way and skew our judgment. But we certainly should recognize the importance of ego and its role in leadership.
Although ego isn’t a leadership skill it’s certainly one of the most important elements of measuring leadership. As Steven Smith, author of egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability) points out in an interview with Guy Kawasaki:
“There are other important elements on the leadership ‘table,’ but ego has the most weight—in large part because of the affect it has on everything else.”
The interview itself is phenomenal. Ego is something I think about a lot (because mine is so huge right?!) and its impact on leadership and success. I firmly believe in the value of a healthy ego. I agree that a healthy ego helps when starting a company.
Steve Smith paints a beautiful picture of the healthy ego when he talks about humility. Remember: great leaders don’t have all the answers.
“Humility has a reputation of being the polar opposite of excessive ego. In fact, the exact opposite of excessive ego is no confidence at all. Humility provides the crucial balance between the two extremes. When Jim Collins did his work in Good to Great, humility was one of only two characteristics he discovered that separated leaders capable of leading good—even very good—performing companies, and leaders who made their companies great performers. And all of those leaders who lifted their companies to greatness and sustained them for over fifteen years did it in the same dog-eat-dog world everyone else was in. Humility was custom made for the dog-eat-dog business world.”
When it comes to entrepreneurs, I believe many of them are very close to achieving a healthy ego, but what’s missing is stability. So they swing wildly from ultra-confidence and a jubilant ego to feelings of uncertainty and fear. Steven Smith calls the perfect balance between ego and humility the “ego equilibrium”. That’s a very hard state for entrepreneurs to achieve while riding the startup rollercoaster. But it’s well worth gunning for.