Check Your Ego, Please!

Last Sunday evening I was watching the Olympics figure skating team event when Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko stepped onto the ice. Evgeni is known as his country’s greatest male figure skater, and this is his fourth Olympics.

As Evgeni performed, one of the commentators said something that caught my attention. She said that Evgeni Plushenko was so great, he had earned the right to be arrogant.

Is that possible? Do we ever reach a level of success when we are entitled to a big ego?

It sure seems that way. We have come to expect it so much that when we hear of how a hugely successful person continues to act “normal” after rising to the top, we are both surprised and impressed!

But why are we amazed when successful people remain humble? Isn’t that the way it should be? Arrogance is a dangerous mindset that slowly creeps in as we begin believing we have earned the right to be egotistical, or that we deserve to be put on a pedestal, or that work we used to do is now beneath us.

When we are arrogant, we risk:

  • Developing a “me first” mentality.
  • Serving only when we stand to benefit from it.
  • Surrounding ourselves with people who tell us only what we want to hear.
  • Thinking we are above the rules or the law.
  • Rationalizing self-serving decisions because it is what we “deserve.”

Arrogance has no place in leadership. It clouds our judgement and insulates us from the very people we are tasked to lead. As you go through different seasons of your career, be on guard against arrogance by doing an occasional gut check. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does my team trust me? If yes, be able to list some specific examples of how they show their trust.
  • Do I follow through with what I say I will do no matter what?
  • How am I serving my team to their benefit (not mine)?
  • Am I willing to make decisions that benefit my team and/or organization but not me?
  • Are there people in my inner circle who will tell me what they really think and not what I need to hear? If so, do I listen?

The more success you experience, the more vigilant you must be against arrogance. An arrogant leader admires himself, but a successful yet humble leader is admired by those they lead.

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