The ego trap is a danger for anyone in a leadership position. After all, it is seductive to be catered to, whether it is out of merit or because of the power and rank held by a manager, supervisor or upper level executive. This is dangerous ground because the nature of ego traps is that we are usually blind to them. Those caught in an ego trap may even rationalize their behaviors as “necessary to get the job done”.
Unfortunately leaders caught in an ego trap can be extremely damaging to morale, creativity and productivity and when high-ranking leaders are involved entire organizations can be derailed. The ego trap has captured executives, religious leaders, therapists, lobbyists, and politicians; it is a danger to anyone in a position of influence over others. We have all witnessed it many times over. A person in power let’s it go to his or her head and commits an act that comes back and stalls his or her career, damages credibility and often damages personal relationships as well.
The truth is, no one is immune to being hijacked by ego and it is never too soon to solicit reality checks and feedback from those we spend the most time with, at work or at home. When one is in the grip of ego, the capacity to listen to others, to hear counsel or constructive criticism, is absent. We stop listening to learn and instead are listening to defend. This inability to listen leads inevitably to being “blindsided” by others, because we have not been open to dissenting viewpoints.
If we fail to cultivate a deep and abiding appreciation for the ideas, experience, feelings and insights of others, we can never be fully or completely whole as a human being. We end up being only part of what we are capable of being. While a dose of arrogance can help leaders believe in themselves enough to get the job done, it remains wise to cultivate the humility to learn and grow from those who would “follow the leader.”