Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Have you ever left a meeting thinking to yourself – what an absolute waste of time! Why did everyone care more about making themselves look good and driving their own agenda, then what was best for the team and for the company?
That’s exactly the conversation I had with a friend the other day. He’d just come from one of his weekly meetings, and was frustrated that they’d not only wasted everyone’s precious time, but they hadn’t been able to move things forward and accomplish what they needed to.
I shook my head agreeing with him, for I too had been in this situation many times over the years.
My response to him was, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place to work if people would leave their egos at the door and just get on with it?” You’ve probably heard this expression of ‘leaving your ego at the door’ before, as much has been written and said about leaders doing this.
But let me ask, if leaders are the only ones leaving their egos at the door, won’t there still be a lot of egos in the room? Shouldn’t we do something to ban them all?
So with that in mind, here are a few thoughts and actions on how we can, and should, ban egos from the workplace.
1. It starts with respect.
A stumbling block I’ve seen time and time again is the lack of genuine and heartfelt respect for one another. No wonder egos enter the room when there’s no respect, for how can we let down our guards and trust people to contribute if we don’t even respect them?
If instead we take the time to get to know one another, showcasing what we know and who we are, maybe we’ll see that we don’t have to constantly own each and every situation. And we may be surprised by all that others bring to the table, having skills and experiences that we never knew about.
2. Understand the reason for the ego.
We often assume that the person with the biggest ego in the room is the person who thinks the most of themselves. Well sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Often I’ve seen that it’s just the opposite, for in fact often they lack the confidence, skills or possibly experience to handle a situation in a more effective way, so their ego comes out as a defence mechanism.
If we take the time to again find out more about each other, strengths and weaknesses, we can better support each other. For example, by knowing that a member of the team may feel a bit out of their depth when it comes to financials, you can jump in and help them before their ego comes out and bulldozes and derails the conversation.
3. Focus on the greater good.
I once had a boss who told me to pick my battles, fighting only those that would add value to the greater good of the team and the company. I think of him, and this often, using this as my filter before presenting an opinion or a challenge.
If we could work with our teams to understand the need for filters, and then work with them to create them, there would be no need to bring out egos.
Another great filter to use when deciding what to say (and not say) comes from a the tv show ‘Tidying Up’, which is asking yourself, “does it bring you joy?.
Either way, filters will help teams understand the difference between helping or hurting the team, and then do something about it.
4. Be clear on roles.
The final problem I wanted to highlight as a cause for egos, is a lack of clarity when it comes to roles. If team members don’t know who owns what, no wonder they (and their egos) jump in time and time again. Think of it this way, say you’re on a basketball team and you don’t assign positions. What happens? You all go for the hoop to score, and no one is left defending your goal. Not a great result for the team!
If, instead, you can discuss and outline who owns what, you’ll be clearer on responsibilities, and hopefully egos will realize that there is no need to come out and cause any harm.
So in ending, let’s all remember that as the expression goes “there’s no I in team”, and just leave our egos at the door. Would the world of work be a much better (and happier) place to be, absolutely!