Creating a high-performing team is the hardest thing you'll ever do as a leader. It's the only thing you were truly hired to do. Sure, you were the best HR generalist, or best accountant, or best software engineer, etc. The reality is none of that matters anymore; your organization just needs you to lead a team of folks and do great stuff.
A challenge to your ego
You got to where you're at because you were very good at what you do. That's one hell of an ego stroke! Getting promoted is validation that you're the best. The Ego of Me, at this point, is at full attention.
I speak from personal experience: I get to go around the world and speak to groups of leaders and it's a huge stroke to my ego. My wife says it's like a drug. If I get on stage and do well, I can feel the validation from the audience. It builds my ego.
The problem with the Ego of Me is that it only really makes one person feel good: me or you. Not both of us at the same time. We all need a little of this "me" ego time. It's not a bad thing; all great leaders have an ego. It comes part and parcel with the job.
The bigger question is: How do we transition from Ego of Me to Ego of We?
Moving from me to we
The greatest organizations and the greatest leaders of our time have figured out that the Ego of We is truly the only path to greatness. If it's only about you doing well, others can feel this. Most leaders who fail do so because they didn't know how to lead. They fail because they don't know how to get others to walk the journey with them.
Employees want to be successful and they want to work for a successful organization. They want the Ego of We!
How leaders adopt the Ego of We
What does it take to go from an Ego of Me to an Ego of We? Here are few tips:
- As a leader, you must care more about the success of those you lead than your own success.
- Your employees must truly believe you'll do whatever it takes to make "them" successful.
- Successes are shared collectively, outwardly to the organization, never as an individual.
- Leaders take full responsibility for failure, period. No discussion and no finger pointing.
- Never put yourself in a position above the group. Raise them up. Don't reach down to lift them up.
This is so hard to do in most organizations. Leaders who strive for an Ego of We are many times viewed as weak. Critics might say, "Oh, you can't do it on your own? You can't ‘make' this happen?" We value leaders who seem to effortlessly make things happen.
It's about teamwork and teambuilding
The reality is those visionary leaders we all strive to be weren't the leaders that just got stuff done on their own. They're the leaders who led their people to heights they never thought possible, enabling the entire team to achieve - and feel they contributed to - success.
So, take a minute today and think about what kind of leader you are right now. What kind of leader do you hope to become? The Ego of We is so much more fulfilling in the long run to the Ego of Me. Good luck.