Are You Hot Stuff?

If you’ve recently been promoted to a leadership position then congratulations. It likely came with an important sounding title and you might be tempted to think you’re pretty hot stuff as a result. 

 

You’re not. You’re not because no one is. Your skills in some areas may be better than someone else’s and you may as a result been able to acquire more “stuff.” But you have to know that doesn’t make you a more valuable human being. No title, no position, and no amount of money can do that. Every person you’ve ever met or ever will meet is worthy of the same level of respect as you, regardless of your or their level of accomplishments. 

 

The danger in thinking you’re hot stuff is that it artificially inflates your ego. Egos need to be fed and when a person’s ego gets too big they invariably steal another person’s ego food. A healthy well balanced ego is the mark of an Authentic Leader. They need no more than their own share of ego food so they have plenty left over to provide recognition and support to their people. 

 

One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to help their people know, without a doubt, that they matter. That they matter to the organization as both an employee and as a person. 

 

The effort required to do that must be intentional and consistent. Helping others understand their worth is not a chore for an Authentic Leader, it is a privilege. 

 

When you forget that, even for a short time, you put all other aspects of your leadership at risk. Large egos tend to make leaders pretty forgetful when it comes recognizing other people.

 

I can’t close this post without at least a short discussion on ego. Many people reading this will be perplexed by my comments about “feeding” egos. They are perplexed because like many people they have always been told that having an ego is a bad thing. Well that’s like saying sleeping is a bad thing. You have to sleep in order to recharge your batteries for the next day. 

 

You must also have an ego to motivate yourself. Having an ego is a normal as having a nose. Having an ego is not a problem unless it gets so big that you lose sight of the fact that everyone else has one too.


Think of it like this, self-respect comes from having an ego; lack of respect for others comes from having an ego that has grown too large. If your ego has gotten a little too large then put it on a diet by giving your ego food to someone who needs it more than you. 


How to Feed Your Ego

Do you have an ego? If you’re reading this then it’s likely you have a pulse and if you have a pulse then you most certainly have an ego. 

That’s not a problem, the problem comes from not understanding that having an ego is as normal as breathing. 

As a leader you must remember that your people have egos and their ego needs to be fed with recognition and feedback. Hungry egos lead to unproductive, disengaged followers and no leader can afford that. Consider feeding your people’s egos to be an investment in them and your organization.

While feeding your people’s ego you must also remember that you have an ego too. Just like everyone else’s it must be fed. You may be working for a limited leader who doesn’t offer recognition or feedback. Maybe you’re leading from the middle of the organization where your efforts are largely hidden. 

In either case, it may be necessary for you to feed your own ego. Having a hungry ego does not make you weak, it doesn’t make you selfish and it doesn’t make you an egomaniac. It simply makes you human.

Here are a few ideas on how you may feed your own ego.

Discover satisfaction wherever and whenever you can. Be satisfied knowing the real reason for the success of your team or the success of a project. If you know the reason it’s a safe bet others do as well, whether they acknowledge it or not. 

Accept the compliments, wherever they come from. You may not be receiving compliments from your boss or leader but hey, a compliment is a compliment. Accept them graciously because if you’re hungry enough it doesn’t really matter where the food is coming from.

Understand the value of what you do. Oftentimes people aren’t appreciated until they are gone. That happens when their value isn’t understood. Whether others understand the value that you bring to the organization or not you always have the ability to understand it yourself.

Now… a couple of caveats. 

A healthy ego is a lean ego. Your ego needs to be fed but it doesn’t need to be stuffed. Never eat more ego food than you need to be healthy. While having an ego is not a problem having a great big fat ego certainly is!

Make sure what you’re ego is eating is actually ego food and not waste from a bull. If you lie to yourself about the value you bring to the organization or your accomplishments then your ego begins to smell like the bull. That’s no way to lead!

Keep your ego well fed and your career and relationships will be healthy too.