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The Impact of Ego on Leadership Effectiveness

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May 13, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
4 min read
Leadership effectiveness hinges on managing ego. Balancing self-confidence with humility fosters collaboration and success.

The Impact of Ego on Leadership Effectiveness

In my extensive experience operating in the leadership landscape, I continue to notice the influence of a leader's ego. An ego, which encompasses a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance, can significantly shape how a leader behaves and, by extension, the effectiveness of their leadership.

While a healthy level of self-confidence is necessary for making decisions and inspiring confidence in others, an inflated ego can be detrimental, leading to challenges that undermine the leader's effectiveness and the organisation's success.

Understanding Ego in Leadership

At its core, leadership is about guiding others toward achieving common goals. The role of ego in this process is twofold; it can act as a driver of self-assurance and ambition or as a barrier to growth and collaboration. A balanced ego helps leaders be resilient, take risks, and drive forward with conviction. However, when the scales tip towards an oversized ego, problems begin to arise.

Leaders with an inflated ego often exhibit a need for control, a desire for admiration, and a tendency to dominate discussions and decision-making processes. This can stifle creativity and innovation among team members, as the leader’s need to assert their superiority can limit open communication and the flow of ideas.

The Consequences of Ego-Driven Leadership

1. Resistance to Feedback: One of the most critical aspects of effective leadership is the ability to seek out and positively respond to feedback. Leaders with a large ego often struggle to accept criticism, viewing it as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for improvement. This resistance can create a culture where feedback is discouraged, and mistakes are repeated, hindering both personal and organisational growth.

2. Poor Decision-Making: An overinflated ego can cloud a leader's judgment, leading them to make decisions based on their interests rather than the best interests of the organisation or team. Such leaders may prioritise personal glory over achievable, sensible goals, potentially steering their teams into projects or strategies that are doomed from the start.

3. Impaired Team Dynamics: Leadership with a high ego often leads to a lack of trust and respect within the team. When leaders fail to acknowledge the contributions of others, it can lead to decreased morale and engagement. Moreover, when leaders are too focused on asserting their dominance, it can result in conflict and a competitive atmosphere that is detrimental to teamwork.

Strategies for Managing Ego in Leadership

To mitigate the negative effects of ego, leaders can adopt several strategies:

1. Self-awareness: Leaders must develop a keen sense of self-awareness to understand how their behaviours and decisions are influenced by their egos. Regular self-reflection and soliciting honest feedback from peers, mentors, and team members can help in recognising and adjusting behaviours that stem from an inflated sense of self-importance.

2. Emphasising Team Success over Individual Glory: Effective leaders understand that true success comes from the efforts of the entire team, not just the leader. By celebrating team achievements and giving credit where it's due, leaders can foster a more collaborative and supportive environment.

3. Continuous Learning and Humility: Adopting a mindset of lifelong learning and humility can help leaders keep their egos in check. Recognising that they don’t have all the answers encourages leaders to listen more actively and value the contributions of others, enhancing both personal growth and team effectiveness.

4. Fostering Open Communication: Leaders should encourage a culture where constructive criticism is welcomed and valued. This can be achieved by being approachable and open to discussions, showing that the leader values the opinions and insights of their team members.


While a certain degree of ego is necessary for leaders to drive and inspire their teams, it becomes problematic when it overshadows the needs and contributions of others.

Effective leadership is characterised by a balance between confidence and humility, where the focus is on collective success rather than personal accolades.

By managing their ego, leaders can cultivate a healthier, more productive work environment that propels both their teams and themselves towards sustainable success. In doing so, they not only achieve professional goals but also contribute to a more empathetic and collaborative corporate culture.