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Executive Presence: 10 Key Points to Keep Your Ego in Check

egoby Terri L. Williams

“It’s okay if other people think you’re God, but you’re in trouble if you start believing it.”
-David Cornwell, Sports Attorney,




Inflated egos often undermine common sense and smart decision making. Three of my favorite articles, clarify actions by leaders, in which their ego negatively impact their performance Forbes Magazine, August 2014, published, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.”; The Wall Street Journal “The Case for Humble Executives”; and Harvard Business Review, “Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check,”:









1. Forbes Magazine, August 2014, published, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.” The author, Forbes Contributing Writer, Bruce Kasanoff, shares that Ego is a blinder. It stops you from processing information. It stops you from seeing the world as it is. Instead of seeing reality, you see The Me Show. You are so blinded by the beauty of your name in lights that you fail to realize the best leaders bring out the best in other people, not just themselves.








2. The Wall Street Journal, October 2015, published “The Case for Humble Executives”, Leaders with humility listen well, admit errors and are willing to share the limelight, which stresses that Some executives spend years developing humble listening skills.




3.  Harvard Business Review, December 2009, published, “Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check,” which shares that leaders have to believe in themselves — otherwise no one else will. Their conviction in their own abilities has to be strong as well as resilient, but such self-assurance cannot be allowed to become arrogance. So often when we see business leaders making poor decisions it seems as if their ego is speaking louder than their voice of reason.






Executive Presence Perspectives:
From an executive presence perspective, emotional intelligence is part of executive presence III Gravitas/ Leadership. In particular, it is the ability to engage your “people skills” which foster relationships with employees, stakeholders, and customers.













“People aren’t drawn to perfection; they are inspired and influenced by vulnerability, humility, and courage.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

Jen Shirkani penned, Ego vs. EQ, How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence. She shares that Ego-driven leaders can sidestep the eight most dangerous traps that undermine success and learn to heed their EQ instead. While this information is not new ground, there are benefits from Shirkani’s helpful information and solid advice.

ego vs eq








In Jen’s video she speaks at a conference on emotional intelligence, and shares some unique examples of leaders whom are not aware of the effect of their ego, please review the video here:

In Ego vs EQ, Jen teaches us that there are three components of emotional intelligence (EQ) – “self- awareness, empathy and self-control”; how to follow your EQ instead of your ego; and what methods you can use to avoid slipping back into egotistical behaviors

10 Key Points to Keeping your Ego in Check
1. A “360-degree feedback” survey ensures a fair and balanced assessment of the competencies of executives.
“Once you rise to the upper ranks of the organization it can be very difficult to get objective feedback about your performance.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

2. Effective leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and welcome input; egotistical ones do not.
“As leader of the organization, your behavior – for good or for ill – is the primary model according to which everyone else acts.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

3. Emotional intelligence (EQ) skills matter more the higher you rise in your firm.
“Self-awareness – or recognizing what’s happening with you – will go a long way to help you avoid a full relapse into your old ways.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

4. Executives set an example and establish behavioral standards.
“Accepting that others can do a competent job will keep you focused on the important strategic work of an executive, instead of the nit-picking work of a subject matter expert.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

5. Executives’ self-appraisals often differ radically from others’ appraisals of them.
“When you hire others who live on your wavelength, you unintentionally create a support system of people who are not equipped to challenge you, to question your thinking.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

6. Leaders who are unwilling or unable to recognize their own deficiencies are much more likely to sabotage their careers.
“Without moments on the front line, leaders can easily become blind to what it’s like for rank-and-file employees leading the charge from the fore.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

7. Many executives fail to understand the distinction between “control” and “leadership.”
“Whether it is employee disengagement, lowered morale, increased turnover, or decreased motivation, the effects of falling into the ego traps are real and costly.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

8. Relinquishing control means stepping back, delegating responsibility and, most important, trusting in the outcome.
“If you feel that you must micromanage, then you don’t trust. And if you don’t trust, you place artificial limits on your company’s ability to grow.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

9. Sustainable organizational growth requires dissenting viewpoints and opinions.
“Sometimes executives need fundamental relationship skills that are simply outside their scope of traditional expertise and are not taught in business school.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

10. Technical skills and knowledge have little bearing on leadership ability.
“Losing touch with your front line, or even being perceived that way because of a lack of visibility, is a surefire way to lose both your credibility and your employee loyalty.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

Photos courtesy of Google images
Forbes Magazine, August 2014, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.”
The Wall Street Journal, October 2015, “The Case for Humble Executives.
Harvard Business Review, December 2009, Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check .
Jen Shirkani penned, Ego vs. EQ, How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence.

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