The very essence of effective leadership is serving by putting others first and showing gratitude. It means the leader must subordinate his or her needs to the bigger vision of the organisation. True and effective leaders are concerned with directing others towards success, defining what great performance looks like and supporting people towards higher levels of performance.
Unfortunately, effective leadership is not possible with an ego-driven leader. These types of leaders have the potential to ruin themselves, others, and the organisations that they are supposed to lead. Brigette Hyacinth, the author of Leading the workforce of the future, denotes that “the ego blinds us with a false sense of indestructibility, clouds our judgements thus leading to poor decisions and a breakdown of relationships”.
It stands to reason that such leaders cannot take the organisation to where it is supposed to go no matter how much they would like to convince themselves.
I had a boss who made it her business to frustrate other people. It seemed like her only reason for existence was to find fault in her direct reports. Her gun was always loaded ready to dismiss employees that dared to challenge her. To cut the long story short, she was fired after a litany of ethics cases that employees had reported against her.
As we say, the world of HR is small in Johannesburg. She happened to work with one of my former colleagues and I was not surprised when he called me 7 months later to tell me that she was fired from the new company. The reasons where the same, the company could not allow her to bring people and the organisation down just to serve her ego.
That is the challenge with egotistic leadership, it is toxic and never intended to build. These types of leaders believe that they have all the answers and that there is no point of view better than theirs. They have hidden agendas that they defend at all costs to get what they want, which in most cases does not advance the organisation but their self-interests. Their inflated ego prevents them to see their failures and to learn from their mistakes.
In her book, Dare to Lead, Brené Brown observed: “…. that many people lead from a place of hurt and smallness, and they use their position of power to try to fill that self-worth gap”. This is unfortunately so true for many leaders. I have observed this many times in my coaching sessions where people are caught in their hurtful life stories and they try too hard to deny, eject, or suppress these stories from their minds. The opposite is also true of leaders who might have grown being told that they are most intelligent and special to a point of believing that they are the only ones who matter.
Either way, the key to shifting from egotistic to effective leadership is to reframe these dysfunctional narratives into what can serve the leader and the others. This is the first step towards healing thyself. This can only happen when leaders start to replace pride with humility. It takes leading from the heart and respecting the individuals and team members as invaluable towards the success of the organisation. As a leader show people respect, invite their opinions, and make them feel safe the people will give their all and raise the bar for the benefit of the leader and the organisation.
Tex Hlalele is a Life & Business Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Author. Book Tex for coaching and speaking engagements to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement on +2764 656 6174 or visit http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/contact.html. He is the author of the book, Face the person in the mirror.