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“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and, in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.”

John Lennon


The notion of ego is often used to describe the harmful expressions of ego.  We all know people in power who abuse it, coerce with it, wield it for their singular advantage and wound and destroy with it, whether at work, home or in the community. Yet ego is a powerful and essential part of who we are AND it’s only as helpful or harmful as you inform and guide it to be. It is tied to your power and life force. Chances are you have a significantly assertive and creative ego if you are reading this article as a business owner, responsible for selling something and managing people on a team. The quality of your ego is directly connected to the short and long-term effects you create. I wrote this article to encourage you to examine the helpfulness or harmfulness of your ego because your results depend on it and make all the difference to the success and happiness of you and everyone you influence.


Unconscious Egos

When I work with leaders to uncover their purpose; asking them what they most want to cause in the world, they often say, “I want to make an impact.” I reply, “You mean like Hitler?” Of course, this generally gets a chuckle but the exchange is designed to make obvious a lack of conscious choice regarding what specific impacts they want to create. No matter if we exercise our ego consciously or not, we are making impacts every second of our lives. Here are several types of leaders who do not seem to have positive or helpful egos:


Charismatic leaders: People who lead from self-image and the sheer force of their personality. They tend to appear as larger-than-life heroes but often have no commitment to develop others or create systems for lasting change or even joint benefit. They rally initial success but do not ensure its sustainability. They are too self-focused.


Transactional or autocratic leaders: People who use rewards and punishment to motivate behavior. They focus on getting what they want, not providing to others what they want or need. They are too self-focused.


Laissez-faire leaders: People with a hands-off approach who fail to provide curiosity, structure or support. This results in disengagement and a lack of caring among the team due to a culture of neglect. They are too self-focused.


Powerful, Positive, Helpful Egos

What does a leader with a powerful, positive and helpful ego look like and cause? They care about others. They are:


Transformational leaders: People who inspire followers through effective communication and by creating environments of intellectual stimulation, emotional intelligence and innovation. They operate from purpose, values and vision first and expand potential in every person, while making sure each gets their needs met.


Servant leaders: While this can sound like role reversal, at best, these are people who willingly share power and support collective decision-making. They invite all of their team to co-influence vision and direction.


Participative leaders: These are people who welcome all employees to participate, exchange ideas freely and set direction together. While this leader makes final calls, everyone has a voice, which encourages a wide range of solutions because everyone’s ideas are considered.


The work of LifeWork Systems is fostering the growth and further development of leaders who exercise powerful, positive and helpful egos. These are people unafraid of creating other leaders or worried anyone could surpass them. They enjoy conditions favorable to all, not solely for their own pleasure, ease or gain. Let me know if I can help you not only identify ways to guide and inform your ego to be highly helpful and also provide you with the necessary systems so you and your people operate within a life-giving, game-changing organization that achieves extraordinary outcomes.


Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article was published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly in Judy’s column on The Extraordinary Workplace, December 2020.