We are important. That’s what our ego tells us, and it is right of course. Our ego is our sense of self-esteem and self-importance. It constantly requires us to seek more money, power, possessions, glory and prestige. When an ego is inflated or clashes with colleagues’ in the workplace, that’s when sparks tend to fly. Energy and focus is then spent on the wrong things – putting out the fires rather than the tasks at hand. Ultimately deadlines get missed, objectives are unachieved and the entire functioning of the organisation can be placed in jeopardy. So how do we manage ego in the workplace?
Deflate that ego!
To manage egos among our colleagues and have teams that work, we first have to understand the difference between a healthy and an inflated ego.
The “hamster in a wheel” ego
This person is in a constant state of striving for more power and recognition. They get caught up in the trap of striving and never arriving. As a result, they never feel complete and they crave for more, more, more. They feel the need to be validated by others, to boast, to be recognised, and come across as demanding and self-absorbed.
The “worthy” ego
This person is confident of who they are and what they are worth. Because of this confidence, they simple “do”. They don’t feel the need for validation. However, through their confidence and competence, they attract success and praise naturally. They have a sense of inner peace and satisfying fulfillment.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand which ego fits better in the workplace!
How to have a “worthy” ego
Start to be aware of yourself and your own emotions and how you react to things. Notice when you display negative emotions such as anger, jealousy or depression, and what triggers these emotions. Being aware of this can help you avoid circumstances that will create this reaction in you. The following template will help you with this:
I feel __________ (fill in an emotion) when ____________ (event that happened) because I feel that ______________ (reason that causes your emotion).
Example: I feel angry when my colleague doesn’t follow my instructions because I feel that I am not respected.
Being able to recognise what causes you to display an unhealthy ego will allow you to communicate your feelings well and come to a solution with colleagues. This contributes towards a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Come from a place where you want to share rather than dictate. Acknowledge team efforts and celebrate wins together. This is a great way to manage multiple egos in the office and allow less egotistical team members to feel validated too.