Ever bumped into yourself and thought ‘please can you just move out of my way?” Weird as this might sound, it may hide a powerful message. I’m not the first coach to think how cool it is to help people ‘get out of their own way’, it is a concept that has been around for a while but one which, very interestingly, people too often just don’t get.
In a nutshell, we can be surprisingly unintelligent about when it is ‘us’ that is the reason things are not going the way they should be. That applies both at work and in our personal lives.
In the business arena and trending at the moment is Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, once heard to say “I’m underpaid compared to Premiership footballers” and only this week being reported as blaming the cancellation of 40/50 flights per day and the shortage of pilots to a management mess-up. A charismatic leader, synonymous with a powerful brand that he built, Mr O’Leary could be held up as an example of ego leading to blindness in decision making.
As for affecting our personal lives, Indra Nooyi’s 7th critical lesson for running a Fortune 50 company in the 21st century is ‘Leave your crown in the garage’. As CEO of Pepsico she is worth listening to; “No matter who we are, or what we do, nobody can take our place in our families.” Her point is about remembering the other roles we have in our lives, those in addition to the one where we think we are ‘It’. In those other roles we might be server, facilitator, supporter, carer and these are equally as important as being the boss.
Being good in any role, particularly where you are in charge, entails remaining grounded when you are being successful. Being the one in control necessitates a level of emotional intelligence that lets you keep clear judgment and make decisions with the knowledge that they impact positively on those on the receiving end.
This isn’t about dumping your ego. We all need our egos, they embody our will, our drive, our passion, our individuality. It’s important to acknowledge our successes and strengths. It’s equally important to notice those moments when your back patting becomes self-aggrandisement that threatens to make you think you’re infallible.
To ensure you wear the crown at the right times we offer these tips:
Know that you don’t always have to be right – inviting the views of others contributes to better informed decisions and may show you something different and better.
Surround yourself with people that are not always just like you – opposing viewpoints and perspectives lend strength and clear judgement.
Be aware of what your impact is downstream – who is affected by what you do, say and decide, and are they being affected the right way.
Be transparent and sharing – building silos and Chinese walls invariably results in getting someone’s back up and inviting suspicion and confrontation.
Listen, pause, and think about all the options. Only then are you in the right place to make the right decision.
You don’t always have to be a hero.