Separating Business Ownership and Ego

Confidence. Self-assurance. Optimism. These traits are often associated with entrepreneurs, and ultimately they’re essential for success. But as with anything, there’s a limit. Allowing any of these— or a combination of them— to overflow can quickly over-inflate an ego, hindering growth and harming chances of long-term success. So where is that line, and how do we know when we’ve reached it? 

This article explores the importance of leaving your ego at the door and explains why it’s crucial. For personalised advice, contact our team at MindAbility today. 

Are You Prepared to Clean Toilets?

Here’s an excerpt from my book, The Trouble with Pink Wheelbarrows, that I think sums up this topic perfectly. What do you think? 

‘My dad had a handful of philosophies that he lived his life by. A couple of them have really stuck with me. Firstly, always remember that the most successful person in any room is actually the biggest failure.

Why is that? Well, they’ve had more “nos” than anyone else throughout their lives and are comfortable with that. Secondly, when you’re thinking of launching and building a successful business, throw your ego down the toilet. Literally. His belief was that if you weren’t prepared to clean toilets, then you shouldn’t be a business owner.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that those who are janitors are any less valued than business owners. In fact, quite the opposite. His point was that if you want to run any business and run it well, you leave your ego at the door. Period.’

Why You Need to Leave Your Ego at the Door

 Ego can easily become a double-edged sword, where it once propelled you but then has the ability to turn on you in ways you didn’t expect. While a healthy level of confidence is necessary for navigating the challenges of business ownership, an ego-driven approach can lead to detrimental consequences. When decisions are fuelled by ego rather than rationality, the focus shifts from the greater good of the business to self-promotion and personal gains.

Ego-driven leaders tend to prioritise short-term wins, overlook diverse perspectives, and resist feedback, which can hinder long-term planning and collaboration. A leader resistant to feedback shuts down avenues for constructive criticism and stifles growth and improvement. This approach can lead to missed opportunities, demotivated employees, and a decline in overall productivity. 

When team members feel discouraged from sharing their ideas, valuable insights are lost, and potential solutions to problems remain unexplored. This hampers the business’s ability to adapt, innovate, and address emerging challenges effectively.

From there, a culture of fear and complacency may develop, resulting in reduced enthusiasm for work and limited creativity. In contrast, leaders who embrace feedback create an environment of continuous improvement, fostering trust and transparency. By valuing feedback, they empower employees to take ownership, enhancing productivity and driving innovation for long-term success.

How Your Ego can Harm You (and Your Business)

If your ego turns, you’re likely to face some issues with demotivated employees. Demotivated employees are more likely to quit, leaving you with fewer team members than you need and an increased workload for everybody else— possibly starting the cycle again with the remaining employees. From here, you’ll need to look for new hires, interview them, and train them. This all boils down to less-than-stellar profits or perhaps not even making a profit at all.

Entrepreneurs who prioritise their egos over sound decision-making may also be inclined to take unnecessary risks, ignoring potential pitfalls or disregarding valuable advice from team members. In turn, this can alienate employees, partners, and customers, leading to strained relationships and decreased trust from your customers and clients as well as your employees. And for any business owner who wants to see their business succeed, these are the last things you want to be doing.

By recognising the pitfalls of ego-driven behaviour, entrepreneurs can create a balanced and self-aware leadership style, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment, and ensuring decisions are made with the company’s best interests at heart for sustainable growth and success.

Traits You Should Focus On (Instead of Your Ego)

Armed with an understanding of how your ego can harm you and your business, it’s time to shift your focus. The aim is to nurture the innate traits you know you have, even if they’ve been in hiding! With these, you can drive success and create a positive impact on your team— and yourself.

1. Empathy and emotional intelligence

These are foundational traits that enable leaders to connect with their teams, clients, and stakeholders on a deeper level. A leader who demonstrates empathy is better able to understand and relate to others’ emotions, needs, and perspectives, building a culture of trust and support. Meanwhile, emotional intelligence allows for effective communication and conflict resolution, facilitating smoother collaborations and more productive relationships.

2. Adaptability and flexibility

These invaluable traits are great for us all to have, but especially for business owners. Those who can quickly adjust to market shifts, changing consumer preferences, and unforeseen challenges are better equipped to grab available opportunities and overcome obstacles. Embracing adaptability enables leaders to make decisions quickly, while fostering a culture of flexibility empowers the team to respond positively to changing situations.

3. Resilience and perseverance

These two traits are critical in the face of hardship. Business ownership comes with its share of setbacks and challenges, but leaders who maintain their resolve and determination can weather the storms that come their way and continue striving for success. Cultivating resilience allows business owners to bounce back from adversity, learn from experiences, and stay focused on their long-term vision, inspiring their team to do the same.

Drop Your Ego Off Here 

Prioritising positive traits over our egos is not only a win for us but a win for our teams and our businesses themselves. While this may not involve literally cleaning toilets (although sometimes it might, and you need to be open to that!), remembering to leave your ego at the door every morning is the best thing you can do for the well-being of your company and your team. To find out more, book a call with us today!

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