WOW Word-Of-the-Week #353: Ego

May 10, 2011 by  

Ego – one’s image of oneself.

Would you say that you have healthy self esteem? Do you constantly seek recognition when you do a  good job? Are you quick to acknowledge others for their accomplishments?

“There’s a world of difference between a strong ego, which is essential and a large ego – which is destructive. The guy with the strong ego knows his own strengths. He’s confident. He has a realistic idea of what he can accomplish and he moves purposefully toward his goal. But the guy with the large ego is always looking for recognition. He constantly needs to be patted on the back. He thinks he’s a cut above everybody else, and he talks down to people who work for him.” – Lee Iacocca

Several years back I suggested to my husband Chris that when he retired he might want to write a book on leadership. After all, he had 7000 employees, a $2 billion budget, and was in charge of the largest Kaiser region with over 500,000 members. This week I am sharing an excerpt from his chapter titled, ” Lessons Learned.”

“If you want to be a leader you’ll have to develop a strong ego. People with large egos are always concerned about who gets the credit. Some are so ego toxic that they will take credit for others’ accomplishments. And how very sad. Go out of your way to share the wealth and give credit to your staff where performance warrants it and do it when it happens; don’t wait for the annual performance evaluation.

“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you don’t mind who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

“I’ve made it a habit to deflect recognition to my direct reports. That builds strong character and honors their value. In the overall picture I view my job as being responsible for safety, people, quality, customers and cost in that order and it is not something I can accomplish alone.”

This week’s focus is on ego. Do you have a large ego or a strong ego? Are you able to let others take all the credit? Have you ever worked for someone who acknowledged your accomplishments?

Reader Responses

“My ego has grown stronger in the years that I have worked as a professional. I am much more conscious of my strengths and weaknesses than I have ever been. Until we have been in the work world for a number of years, we really don’t develop that healthy ego. I have always had a confidence in what I could accomplish in my life, but it took experience in doing it before I really grew in confidence and in ego. I have worked a number of jobs where I did not get credit from my bosses. However, I knew what I had done and how it affected the bottom line. So, in that respect, I never went out of my way to let bosses know what I had accomplished. If they could not see the forest from the trees, there was nothing that I could say or do that would make a difference. The first time that I had really made a point of what I contributed to my firm was when I was at Pizza & Pasta. I knew that the owner of the publishing company was not going to increase my salary unless I told him about what I meant to the firm. When I told him, he said, “Ok. The increase will be in the next check.” And that was that. Frankly, I was surprised that I did not get any pushback or negotiating. However, I have worked for bosses who simply took me for granted, and there was not health or dental benefits. Just a salary. And, in many instances, no compliments. But when it was time to find a new home, with benefits, great salary and other perks, I gave my notice. Those who have large egos are usually insecure. In order for them to feel better about themselves, they have to put others down. It is too bad, but there are a lot of people in executive suites who are just like that. I have made it a habit every day in the office to tell people what a great job they are doing, simply to put a smile on their faces. I can’t tell you how many of them respond by saying, “I wish my boss would tell me that.” Great word, Susan. Let’s keep our egos strong and supportive. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe

“Sometimes I think you know exactly what inspiration I need for any given week.  This one was especially pertinent to an issue in a coaching relationship with someone with a large ego.  I hope they recognize themselves. Keep them coming!!’ – Kristie