Earlier this year, we shared four leadership lessons to help people lead their teams more effectively. Lesson 2 had a key component to the servant’s leadership.

Egoism can be a relationship killer

Sometimes there is a fine line between self-confidence and egoism. The former is an important leadership attribute, the latter a leadership inhibitor.

Sometimes we confuse the two. So it’s important to be careful not to go too far into the “ego zone.”

At Digital Summit Indianapolis, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Dominque Dawes shared some key insights from her own experience on the dangers of ego.

She applied her lessons to teamwork and family life, but the dangers of too much ego also apply directly to leadership and business relationships.

Well, here are some people who have a lot to brag about. Nonetheless, her keynote was full of her lessons on how egos can get in the way of success.

She began her talk by showing a video of one of her biggest public failures, an infamous fall during a floor exercise routine at the 1996 Olympics. Talk about checking your ego at the door!

Dawes pointed out that when you let your ego rule you, you see the wrongs of others magnified. Teams (or families or businesses) are divided when everything else starts to feel “wrong.”

If you are a leader who sees only flaws, communicate it directly and indirectly. When this happens, the people you are supposed to lead get discouraged.

Eventually, the team falls apart due to divisions and favoritism.

Dealing with negative situations

Good leaders learn how to deal with negative situations and use them as educational opportunities.

One way to do this is with what business leader Dave Ramsey calls the “rebuke sandwich.”

This process takes time to communicate:

  • what they did right.
  • what they did wrong.
  • Then refocus on what they are doing well.

Arguments like this frame the negative in the light of the positive.

Encourage people to overcome their shortcomings by building on what they are good at, rather than a “point and hold” exercise.

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How this applies to business relationships

Ego can also interfere with relationships with supporting teams and clients.

Success or failure as a digital marketing practitioner depends on how a person handles the complex technical aspects of SEO, PPC, and other areas without talking over people’s heads or talking to them. It turns out that it depends on how well you can explain it.

At school, there was a teacher who liked to listen to himself.

Lectures are held at lightning pace until someone asks a question. Then switch to talking to the class, like a group of kindergarteners.

Don’t be like that teacher.

Put your ego aside and learn how to improve your communication with the people you interact with.connect with them sands An ego helps you better show the value of what you bring to a relationship.

One of the best summaries on putting ego aside in business relationships comes from former CEO of Wilsonart International, Bill Reeb.

It was very simple: “Serving customers, serving businesses, serving people.”

I didn’t know Reeb personally, but in my professional interactions with him, he was always open to ideas, even when we disagreed with them. When he disagreed, he had solid reasons for doing so and he shared them in a kind and professional manner.

On my shelf is the stamped pocketknife he gave me in one of those exchanges. Even though he disagreed with that particular proposal, he seemed to appreciate it, so it was a reward for sharing the idea.

This is a great example of checking your ego at the doorstep.

Essentials of Leaders and Brands

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to check your ego.

  • As a leader, do you spend a lot of time talking about your successes and not enough about the lessons you’ve learned from your failures?
  • As a leader, do you spend all your time finding fault with and finding fault with the people around you instead of noticing the good?
  • As a leader, do you automatically ignore opinions and ideas from inexperienced people instead of genuinely listening to them?
  • As a colleague or business partner, do you talk over people’s heads or look down instead of connecting on a personal level?
  • As a brand, is your website content just repetitive advertising instead of giving potential customers the actionable and helpful information they need to choose you?

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for candid feedback on how others perceive your behavior.

Selfish behavior can often be a blind spot for all of us.

If you ask questions, be prepared because they might not like what you hear. It can be another exercise that helps you learn to check your ego on the doorstep.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Elmer Boutin

Elmer Boutin is Vice President of Operations for WrightIMC, a Dallas-based full-service digital marketing agency. After a career as a translator and intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, he has worked in digital marketing for over 25 years, ranging from website coding and optimization to independent contractors, corporate I’ve done everything from managing online reputation management efforts as a webmaster and agency. He has worked with companies of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune his 5-size companies, including Wilson Art, Banfield Pet Hospital, Corner His Bakery Cafe, Ford Motor His Company, Kroger, Mars He Corporation, Valvoline, and more. We have a wealth of working experience and expertise. Website optimization with local, e-commerce, information, education and international focus.

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