Leadership for Life – Ego and Envy

By on June 17, 2013
Leadership for Life - Ego and Envy

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

With the millions of words that have been written about leadership, let’s not leave out two of the most important words: Ego and Envy. I hadn’t given much thought to these words until one morning last week, when I had breakfast with my friend and mentor Bob Serben. He suggested that with all the accumulated knowledge of how organizations succeed, and how leaders can influence these organizations, all our organizations should be running at maximum efficiency and generating maximum profit. And yet . . . we still see organizations go belly up or struggle to make a profit or limp along with all manner of dysfunction. Do we need yet millions more words to be written about how to succeed?

Great leaders are frequently ego-driven. They believe strongly in themselves and their mission, and do their best to influence others to share their vision. Those who succeed at sharing their vision can energize their organizations and go on to success. While “ego” has often taken a bad rap, it’s obvious that you have to believe in yourself first if you’re going to get anyone else to follow your lead.

Envy can also be a driver of success. You look around and see someone else who has what you want. You figure out how to emulate that other person or even surpass their efforts so that you can reach your goal of getting the goodies. Envy can create strong motivation to succeed, and can drive people to work harder and smarter to achieve their goals. “Envy” has also taken a bad rap (it is, after all, classified as a sin), but when the feeling drives goal-oriented behavior without damaging others, it can prove to be a powerful motivator.

The problem with some organizations is that ego and envy are exercised beyond what is reasonable and necessary to motivate positive, goal-oriented behavior. Too often, ego and envy are mobilized to bring others down, and to create internecine warfare within organizations. When taken to extremes, ego and envy lead to playing zero-sum games within organizations, whose leaders and employees direct their energies toward aggrandizing themselves at the expense of others, and bring about organizational dysfunction or outright collapse.

Ego and envy can help good leaders to become great leaders. Like most other things, good judgment and moderation in their application are the keys to realizing the benefits of these drivers. As for me, I have enough ego to believe that what I have to offer in training great leaders is what you need. If you share my belief, call me at 314-539-5329 to share my vision.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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