Are You a Fearless Leader or a Fire-Breathing Ego Monster?

Are You a Fearless Leader or a Fire-Breathing Ego Monster?

Have you ever thought of asking someone in your business "Am I difficult to work for?" If so, I suggest you save yourself the energy, because the answer is likely "Yes."

A better question to ask yourself is, "How difficult is it to work for me?" As you self-reflect, consider these questions: Does it appear your people do things out of pure compliance or personal motivation for group gain? Do your people generally appear happy at work or are they trudging through the day to get out of there?

The ability to challenge people in your organization can push performance and break barriers. However, as leaders, it is important to find the balance of motivating versus throwing power around to get things done. Our strongest personality traits are often only a few degrees away from our greatest weaknesses. These few degrees of separation can be the difference between serving as a fearless leader or acting like a fire-breathing ego monster. Sometimes the ego monster serves a purpose, but it usually lashes out destroying the confidence and motivation of whoever is in its path.

A business can survive and even thrive for some time with a fire-breathing ego-monster, but at some point, it just gets old, especially when you have high performers. Sure, the opportunity to "run the show" one day may motivate them to endure it for a while, but unable to find an escape, they'll act out in avoidance, confrontation, or passive aggressive battles.

So what do you do? The answer depends on your desire to impact lives, retain talent, and perpetuate your multi-unit franchisee business through key managers or family. Are you motivated by enhancing the lives around you? If so, then a change in behavior is one of the only paths to better results. As someone once said, the journey of one thousand steps begins with one (or in this case, two). In our experience, there are two steps you can take to keep the fire-breathing ego monster at bay and to generally improve communication among everyone else who works for you. When you feel ego monster beginning to rear its ugly head either through challenging or disagreeing, try the following strategies:

  1. "Yes...and" instead of "Yes...but." For example, "Yes, I understand why you'd want to stock more widgets to sell, and if we do stock more widgets, our inventory costs will erode profitability, exposing us to unnecessary risk." Much different than saying, "Yes, I understand...but it's not a good idea."
  2. "That's interesting...why would you do that?" "...what leads you to believe that?" "...why would you think that?"

The long-term solution to taming the ego monster will likely take some time, soul-searching, and a level of introspection that can feel impossible without the coaching of outside counsel. However, the simple steps above will create an immediate change in behavior, albeit slight, but sometimes that's all that's necessary to achieve a more harmonious business environment.

 Dan Iosue is an associate of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Dan specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit or call 407-578-4455.

Published: July 10th, 2018

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