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Understanding Ego

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May 8, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
4 min read
Ego, crucial in leadership, must be balanced. Self-reflection, seeking feedback, and humility enhance decision-making and relationships.

Understanding Ego

Defining Ego

Ego, in the psychological and colloquial sense, refers to an individual's sense of self-importance or self-esteem. It plays a crucial role in how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with others.

While a healthy ego can be a source of motivation and self-confidence, an inflated ego can lead to arrogance, poor decision-making, and strained relationships.

The Dual Faces of Ego in Leadership

Ego is a double-edged sword in leadership. On one hand, leaders need a strong sense of self to make decisions confidently, inspire others, and drive progress. On the other hand, an unbridled ego can blind a leader to their limitations, alienate team members, and ultimately hinder organisational success.

Signs of an Inflated Ego in Leaders

  1. Lack of Empathy: Leaders with high egos often struggle to relate to the feelings and perspectives of others, focusing instead on their own needs and views.
  2. Difficulty in Accepting Feedback: Such leaders may view criticism as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for growth.
  3. Overestimation of Abilities: This can lead to unrealistic expectations and risky decision-making.
  4. Credit Hogging: They often take undue credit for successes and deflect blame for failures.

Managing Ego: Strategies for Leaders

To harness the strengths of ego while mitigating its drawbacks, leaders can adopt several strategies:

  1. Self-Reflection: Regular self-assessment helps leaders understand their motivations and biases. Reflective practices like journaling or meditation can help them gain deeper self-awareness.
  2. Seeking Feedback: Encouraging open communication and constructive criticism from peers, mentors, and team members can help leaders stay grounded and responsive to others' needs.
  3. Emphasising Team Success: Focusing on collective achievements rather than personal accolades fosters a team-oriented culture and reduces ego-driven behaviour.
  4. Practising Humility: Leaders who prioritise learning and acknowledge their own limitations can build more cooperative and resilient teams.
  5. Developing Empathy: Actively working to understand and respond to the needs and feelings of others can counteract the self-centred nature of ego.

Benefits of Ego Management in Leadership

Proper management of ego can lead to numerous benefits for leaders and their organisations:

  • Enhanced Decision-Making: Leaders who recognise their biases and limitations are better equipped to make informed decisions.
  • Improved Relationships: By valuing and respecting others' contributions, leaders can foster stronger, more collaborative teams.
  • Increased Adaptability: Leaders with a balanced ego are more likely to embrace change and innovation, seeing challenges as opportunities rather than threats.
  • Sustained Success: Leaders who manage their ego effectively are more likely to achieve long-term success and inspire loyalty and commitment from their team members.


The ego is an inherent part of leadership that, when managed well, can lead to profound personal and organisational growth. By balancing confidence with humility, leaders can navigate the complexities of their roles more effectively and create environments where both they and their teams can thrive. Embracing these strategies can transform potential ego pitfalls into stepping stones for achieving greater empathy, collaboration, and leadership excellence.