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🌟 Rise Above: Letting Go of Ego and Pettiness for a Heart-Centered Leadership 🌟

As we navigate our professional and personal lives, it's common for the ego to subtly intrude and cloud our judgment. When the ego takes the helm, it often brings along its close companion—pettiness. These traits can obscure the broader goals, fostering passive-aggressive behaviors that undermine teamwork and leadership effectiveness.


I once had a supervisor who encouraged me to speak my mind. I expressed my appreciation for her suggestions on leading my team but shared that my preferred approach was more heart-centered. Following this exchange, she began to exhibit passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than focusing on the organization's broader objectives, she concentrated her efforts on micromanaging my time—the one aspect she felt she could control. This was particularly frustrating since my team was not only the most cohesive but also generated the most revenue for the organization.


But what if we chose a different path? What if we embraced a more heart-centered approach to leadership?


Why Ego and Pettiness Are Detrimental:


  • Breaks Down Communication: Leadership studies have established that ego can lead to poor communication practices. Ego can make individuals less receptive to feedback and more likely to engage in communication that protects their self-image rather than promotes clarity and openness. A classic example is Steve Jobs in his early years at Apple, where his ego-driven decisions initially led to his ousting from the company. It was only upon returning with a more inclusive approach that he truly led Apple to its peak success.

  • Stifles Growth: Pettiness focuses on the trivial at the expense of important goals. It traps leaders and teams in minor details, focusing on people and problems rather than fostering progress toward larger objectives. Consider how minor squabbles over credit for work at Microsoft in the 2000s hampered the company’s ability to innovate quickly, allowing competitors like Apple and Google to take the lead.

  • Erodes Team Morale: Ego-driven and petty behaviors can lead to resentment and reduce overall team morale. When team members feel undervalued and overlooked due to someone's ego or petty behavior, it can lead to disengagement. An example is when a leader starts to micro-manage their team by insisting on pre-approving all creative ideas and often dismissing contributions from newer team members, focusing on minor flaws. This behavior leads to a tense environment, stifling creativity and communication. Team members feel undervalued and become disengaged, resulting in a lackluster campaign that fails to meet client expectations. Morale plummets and the team's overall effectiveness and future collaboration suffer significantly.


Strategies to Overcome Ego and Pettiness:


  1. Foster Introspective Acuity: Recognize and acknowledge your own ego-driven behaviors. Regular self-reflection can help identify when your actions are motivated by ego or pettiness. Tools like journaling or feedback from trusted peers can aid in this process. Practice self-coaching by asking yourself questions like, "What is driving my behaviors?" "Is this in the best interest of those I serve or in the best interest of me?" "Is this behavior hurting or helping my situation?"

  2. Embrace Humility: Humility is the antidote to ego. It involves acknowledging that you don't have all the answers and that every team member’s contribution is valuable. This approach encourages a more inclusive and respectful workplace environment.

  3. Focus on the Big Picture: Always remind yourself of your organization's larger goals and visions. When making decisions, consider how they serve these overarching objectives rather than personal agendas. You can do this by regrounding the team on your charter and explaining why and why you are working together.

  4. Lead with Empathy: Adopt a heart-centered approach to leadership. This means leading with empathy, understanding, and genuine concern for others. People will work harder for leaders who appreciate them. Leading from the heart shifts the focus from individual egos to shared success.

  5. Practice Effective Communication: Be direct and honest in your communication and address issues right away. Avoid passive-aggressive tendencies by expressing your thoughts and feelings openly and encouraging your team to do the same. This builds trust and clarity among team members. Try to adopt a ‘no hidden agendas’ policy, which clears misunderstandings and aligns the team towards common goals.


By consciously choosing to let go of ego and pettiness, we open the door to more meaningful and productive leadership. It’s about steering clear of the small disputes and focusing on what truly matters—our mission, our people, and our collective success. Let’s lead with our hearts and keep our eyes on the big picture. Together, we can achieve greatness beyond what our egos could ever imagine.


What steps will you take this week to reduce ego and pettiness in your leadership style? Share your commitments and inspire others in our community!


For leadership and team training and development, contact me at yengyee.lor@faithfulconslulting.com


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