We all claim a positive ego when we admit we have one.
When discussing the ego we often refer to a healthy ego, which means having in place healthy boundaries, or a good sense of self, or having a clear identify.
The free dictionary describes the ego as: 1. The Self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.
Sometimes the ego isn't so positive and we claim selfishness or other traits are "egotisitcal" behaviour. To create great team-working
you need to leave this ego at home each day.
Commonly the ego is seen as a flawed entity, to which is attributed many distasteful character traits which we all believe everyone else demonstrates while amazingly we are squeaky clean.
I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, because unfortunately, we all have both a healthy and an unhealthy ego at times, and I would challenge anyone to deny it. When it comes to team-working though these traits can be destructive.
Below I outline 5 negative ego traits which I am sure we all demonstrate at times, not only in the workplace, but they can have a significant impact in that arena.
My hope is to raise awareness not beat people up. If you find you sometimes fall into the ego trap and display some of these behaviours, then try if you can to give yourself an inward smile, realise it’s simply a ploy of the ego to suck you in, and learn from it and try to do better next time. The 5 traits are:
1. The need to be right
We all have different perspectives and quite often there are a number of possibilities whatever the problem. The ego is definitely in play when we make ourselves right and others wrong. Win/win thinking and behaviour to create better team-working is the alternative.
2. A sense of entitlement, or specialness
A sense of entitlement and a need to be special makes the workplace competitive and self-serving, with little regard for team-working. Individuals will have expectations about what they “deserve” and this usually means they believe other don’t deserve the same benefits, praise, salary etc.
The alternative is to understand everyone makes a unique, albeit different contribution and everyone is part of the team and therefore valuable.
The problem with workplace gossip
is that it is mostly speculation about what might be rather than facts. Unfortunately speculation can grow and cause fear and discontent unnecessarily. Not only is gossip negative energy but it is also a waste of time.
Hearing someone gossip about someone else does little to endear a person to them, it actually creates a wedge of distrust because if they can talk about others behind their backs: they might they be doing the same to you. The alternative is to create great conversations about our own experiences, inviting others to contribute their own.
Sticking to facts and not getting personal about others. Discussing your own thoughts, feelings etc, without attributing or assuming what other people’s motives, thoughts or feelings might be, is the way to create better team-working
4. “Yes person” mentality, not being one’s true self
People pleasing, especially in a hierarchical team-working structure, results in a lack of growth and a denial of unique talents and contribution.
A result of a need to be liked stemming from a fear of not being good enough, or of being rejected for speaking up; some leaders encourage this trait in team members because it makes them feel secure. The alternative is to speak your own truth, but to do it in a way which respects everyone else’s too.
Complaining about others is a method we use to assert the wrongness of others and the rightness of ourselves. It is an ego tool to distract us from trying to understand and be forgiving of others, and instead use blame to protect our own image of ourselves.
The alternative is to put ourselves in another’s shoes and to try to understand their perspective. Stick with the facts and not take or make things personal. So there you have the five ego traits you should leave at home. Easier said than done, and we all fall into the trap at some time.
Do you have any other ego traits you think should be left at home? Do you think the ego has a place in the workplace, and in generating great team-working? I’d love to hear your views. Next week I continue my theme on "ego traits" and I discuss some common behaviours at organsiational level. Watch this space!
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Christina Lattimer is an HR consultant at HR and leadership development consultancy, People Discovery.
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