A FINE line in leadership

According to the literature (one of my favorite lines), some say that leaders have to have a sense of self.  This suggests you have to have this awareness before you get into the “game.”  Others say that leadership helps you discover your sense of self.  Perhaps this is the now of leadership, that we can’t truly know ourselves until we have been in there working it out.  And…you guessed it…. some suggest that we have an expanded sense of self after we have been in a leadership situation.  Reflection is a beautiful thing and it probably is a little easier to look back and see the lessons with some time and context than perhaps anticipating or hesitating in process.  

Our ability to accomplish anything is connected to an internal fortitude.  Believing in ourselves is where it has to start.  It is the I CAN attitude that reinforces our inner strength and self esteem.  This is self-efficacy, it’s the inner belief in our own ability to accomplish our goals – any goals…all goals.  Funny thing about goals, charting a new course, setting out to accomplish things or expanding our self concept is that we need to move our thoughts into actions.  Everything is a thought before it becomes real.  Our evolution as a person is really the same thing.

When we talk about ourselves, others sometimes interpret this as an egotistical thing.  At times, this is more about the reality of the listener than our own actions.  It could be an egotistical thing, but that is a fine line of leadership.  In our American culture we are conditioned to have an I, me, my approach to the world.  Even the word we use for ourselves is always capitalized – I.  This isn’t true in all languages or worldviews.

  • We are told to get out there and make it happen.
  • If it is to be then it is up to me.
  • Make something of yourself.
  • Put yourself forward in the best light possible.

But, if we talk about ourselves too much then it quickly turns into narcissism.  So how do we approach this?  What is this fine line?  There is a difference between ego and egotistical. Ego is a Latin or Greek word that means I.  We use in to mean “self” and it is related to identity.  As stated at the start of this piece leading is a process that we have to have an ego before we start.  The ego is strengthened during the practice of leading.  Finally, our ego is expanded because of leadership.  Bottom line here…we have to have an ego to survive and thrive.  Ego is what get’s us through the hard times.  Ego is what pushes us forward to test our ideas.  Ego is what gets us to stand in front of the group and say, “let’s try this.”  In life (not just in leadership) we have to have a strong sense of self, an identity…. ergo an ego.

However, there is this thing about others interpreting our ego and TOO MUCH of a good thing.  Didn’t someone say -Moderation is the key to life?  And we have definitely said, “Less is more.”  I am not talking about less, who wants to be less of who they are?  Ego is about our identity and a sense of “I”.  I am talking about Awareness.  An awareness of when we are approaching that fine line between the two – ego / tistical. We see the word ego in ego/tistical.  So, we can see the relation.  Pretty clever eh?

We can accomplish more by working together.  This presents a few egos that have to survive together.  To make this happen we can think of it as a type of TRIathlon.  We have -1 part of our own I awareness, one part of awareness of the others I-ness, and finally, the awareness of how much we use the word –I.  The triathlon is about endurance and sustaining the energy of working together.  Our trIathlon is about me+them+aware.

How do you practice your TrIathlon?  How do you train?  When is your next ‘race’?

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership

One response to “A FINE line in leadership

  1. Sherry E.

    This is really resonating with me. Currently I am job searching and the aspect of balance with respect to ego is so true. We need to have confidence, but not come across as overconfident or arrogant. Nicely written piece!


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