Servant Leadership: Dealing with Your Ego Requires a Balancing Act

February 1, 2018 David Witt

A lack of self-awareness combined with an overactive ego can trip up an otherwise great leader.

When leaders allow their ego to go unchecked it can erode their effectiveness, says Ken Blanchard, co-editor of the new book, Servant Leadership in Action. “When that happens, leaders see themselves as the center of the universe and they put their own agenda, safety, status, and gratification ahead of people who are affected by their thoughts and actions.

Blanchard explains that when a leader’s sense of self-worth is tied up in their achievements and the perceptions of others, “their self-worth is up for grabs on a daily basis.”

“It becomes increasingly difficult for a leader with this mindset to maintain a healthy and centered self-determined image. Since their performance varies from day to day, they shift back and forth between feelings of fear and false pride.

“Leaders dominated by false pride are often seen as controlling. Even when they don’t know what they are doing, they have a high need for power and control. They tend to insist they are right even when it’s clear to everyone else they are wrong.

“Fear-driven leaders are often characterized as do-nothing bosses. Their people say they are seldom around, always avoiding conflict and not very helpful. Their fear of making a mistake and feelings of inadequacy keep them from taking action when they should.”

Practice Shining a Light on Others

For better ego balance, Blanchard recommends keeping things in perspective and looking for opportunities to catch people doing things right.

“The best leaders know it’s not about you—it’s about the people you serve. You finally become an adult when you realize that life is about what you give rather than what you get. Don’t let an overactive ego keep you from being your best self or bringing out the best in others.”

PS: You can learn more from Blanchard and 20 other authors, CEOs, and thought leaders who have contributed to the Servant Leadership in Action book at a free online webcast on February 28.  Blanchard is hosting the event to help spread the word about an others-focused approach to leadership.

Register for this event at the Servant Leadership in Action Livecast registration page.  The event is free, courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies.

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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