Egotism in leadership can be countered. But it takes a deliberate effort on the part of leaders to refocus and see things from a wider view. Trained coaches are an excellent resource to guide leaders to a helpful perspective. In some cases, a leader can only make progress on becoming less egotistical through working with an experienced professional.
An effective leader requires a life of balance. Some ego tendencies are beneficial – boldness and confidence are certainly assets in forging direction and inspiring followers. But these tendencies must be kept in check and proportioned with other important leadership attributes.
Author Ryan Holiday, in his book, Ego Is the Enemy (Penguin, 2016) suggests that to minimize the unhealthy effects of ego, leaders find a conscious balance between:
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Ambition and caution
- Confidence and doubt
- Foresight and hindsight
- Boldness and accountability
- Inspiration and being grounded
- Personal needs and the needs of others
A leader needs to optimize the art of self-management, in order to suppress and channel ego when needed. Emotional intelligence is called into play here, and working with a leadership coach is advised. Self-management helps a person notice how to tame their ego and enables them to see themselves from a distance. Detaching from false assumptions and their influences is key, as is recognizing and resisting the temptation to believe and/or act on them..
An important aspect of correcting egotistical tendencies is learning about emotional intelligence (EQ). Improving EQ requires a leader to properly substitute humility for ego. This is a vital skill in subduing the effects of ego. It is a difficult transition for a leader to make, but with support and coaching, it can be done.
A key practice is to recognize the viewpoints of others. No one can see themselves objectively enough to override all their blind spots. Asking for feedback and getting help is an important weapon a leader can use to defeat egotistical tendencies.