Egos kill businesses. Although a great mix of ignorance and ego is required to start a successful business, eventually egos will kill it. We start companies based on our technical skills or business acumen, but over time it's our emotional intelligence that allows the business to grow and scale with tremendous upside.
In this article, we discuss eight ways in which entrepreneurial leaders can develop the emotional intelligence that will allow them to take their company to the next level.
Ego is an important and necessary ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur. After having worked with over sixty entrepreneurial leadership team, the leader of each business has a healthy dose of ego and that’s not a bad thing.
Entrepreneurs need self-confidence, courage, strength and a significant technical expertise. When I started my business I certainly had my fair share of ego. I still do. Without it, no one would hire me as their coach. They wouldn’t have confidence in my ability to help them.
The issue is that over time, egos destroy businesses. Leaders that don’t get honest feedback necessary to drive the business forward, they get disconnected from the front-line employees, they don’t let go of the vine, and they become ignorant to their impact on every employee within the organization they become blind at the top.
Here are the top eight things you can do to avoid creating an organization that gets destroyed by your ego.
All progress starts by telling the truth. Many leaders, including myself, spend a ton of time thinking about the performance of their direct reports. We spend time talking to them, coaching them, managing them and leading them. We tell stories about how we were successful in their positions hoping they will learn something and achieve greater results.
The issue is that we rarely ask them about our performance. How do they think we are doing as a manager and a leader? Most leaders are afraid to ask or don’t actually think it matters. This attitude is why ego gets you the top and emotional intelligence helps you stay there and continue the growth path.
Most employees or even junior partners are afraid to give open and honest feedback about the leader's performance as a leader. Since the leader never asks, he never deals with the truth an can’t make progress.
This can happen to even relationship driven leaders who spend a lot of time with their team. Even if you think you know the person inside and out if you don’t ask for feedback specifically on your performance you’ll never know the truth.
Send this Leadership and Management Questionnaire to your direct reports. It’s a copy of a Google form for your use. It’s designed to be anonymous, however, I’d recommend a direct conversation because it can be more specific and therefore more actionable.
Have no fear! You have to know the truth.
When I started my business I was a technical expert in my field. I started out doing the work myself like so many entrepreneurs do. You grow based on your work load. When you get too busy to do all the work yourself you build extensions of yourself and hire employees. As you go, your extensions have to build extensions of themselves. So forth and so on.
Somewhere along the way, you start developing business acumen, or maybe that’s where you started. You understand how to generate revenue, read a profit and loss statement and employ strategies to manage cash and maximize margins.
Great leaders never stop learning about leadership. They are continuously humbling themselves and are striving to become better leaders and managers. They ask for input on how to run the business better, they hire people with better technical skills than they have.
If you want your business to grow, you have to work “on” the business vs “in” the business. You have to come up for air and get out of the weeds if you want to scale and grow your business.
When we rely on our technical or business acumen to build our organizations, we start to believe that no one can do it as well as we can. In addition, we also start out doing everything and don’t always know when to let go.
If you want to scale and grow your business, you will eventually have to admit that you aren’t the best at everything. In fact, you’re probably really, really good at one thing and subpar, if that, at everything else.
Your job as a leader is to give up everything that is not your Unique Ability®, God-given talent and trust your team to do the job.
If you want to break through and get to the next level, you will have to build a team of people who have different views and perspectives. A team that is not afraid to challenge your thinking and who are always fighting for the greater good. They may tick you off, but it’s for the best.
Our tendency is to surround ourselves with people who are either learning from us and don’t really challenge us, or surround ourselves with people who agree with us (surface or not). As Steve Jobs said, you need to hire people to tell you what to do, not the other way around.
The key here is to build a team that has a diverse background, that is healthy and vulnerable, and accountable for the results. They are never doing what’s best for themselves. Just what’s best for the business.
I’ll never forget being at a trade show in 2013 when a complete stranger came up to me and shook my hand like he knew me. I was completely caught off guard. They acted like we’ve been friends for quite a while. I was searching my brain to place the face. Finally, I just asked, “Do we know each other? I feel like you know me, but I don’t know you.”
They responded, “I work for you.” Crap.
As you build and grow your business you can quickly lose touch with what’s happening at the ground levels of the business. The interactions that occur between your employees and customers, the issues they deal with, the opportunities they miss. If you want to get to the next level and stay in growth mode as a leader, you must never lose touch.
You have to stay at a high-level and work on your business. However, you still have to know what issues exist at the lowest levels of the business. You might be sitting on a goldmine or a landmine and not even know it.
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