A leader asks, “How do you help someone who has an over-sized ego?”


The workplace ego kills results. Left unchecked, it not only limits a team’s potential, but dismantles careers. When someone’s ego reaches the level of “wow, he’s obnoxious!” people begin to avoid such a person. How many leaders, how many teams, excel when people are avoiding one another?



Ironically, most people, when around someone with an ego, only make things worse. They complain about the person. They roll their eyes when the person speaks. They avoid conversations with the ego-plagued person. Such actions increase the likelihood that the person in question has to rev up their ego engine to higher levels. Why? Because they are receiving feedback that they don’t matter, that their ideas are not wanted or valid. Egos don’t handle this sort of feedback well.


You can’t kill an ego by starving it. We can only hope to raise awareness so it can be controlled.



Beyond telling someone directly that their ego is getting the best of them, here are steps to consider for raising awareness in the ego-maniac:


1. Stop trying to fix them. This sends the message ‘you’re not okay,’ and puts their ego into overdrive.


2. Provide sincere, specific and selective feedback when the person’s ego is controlled. Example: “John, thank you for your team approach today. It allowed us generate ideas.”


3. Let them know they’re safe with you. “Mike, you don’t have to tell me how good you are. I trust and know your capabilities.”


4. Ask them questions, such as:

a. How do you want to be perceived by others?

b. Are you open to discussing things you are doing that hurt that perception?

c. What things do you think you are doing to hurt that perception?

d. What do you think those actions communicate to others?

e. To improve how you are perceived by others — and therefore your ability to influence others — what do you want to do better or different?

f. How will you know you’re making progress with this issue?


5. Forgive them. They know not what they do.


What is the difference between what “might be” and what “can be”?  You decide.



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