Destructive ego traits can negatively impact team working

To create great team working, you need to eliminate the ego in the workplace and leave it at home every day.  People talk about the ego and mean many different things.  Some people say we need a healthy ego to be able to function in this world.  “Healthy” could mean, for example, having a healthy sense of self, respecting healthy boundaries, or knowing your likes and dislikes.

Commonly the ego is seen as a flawed entity, to which is attributed many distasteful character traits which we all believe everyone else demonstrates while amazingly we are squeaky clean.  I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, because, unfortunately, we all have both a healthy and an unhealthy ego at times, and I would challenge anyone to deny it. When it comes to teamwork though these traits can be destructive.

Below I outline several destructive ego traits which I am sure we all demonstrate at times, not only in the workplace, but they can have a significant impact in that arena.  I hope to raise awareness not beat people up.  If you find you sometimes fall into the ego trap and display some of these behaviours, then try if you can to give yourself an inward smile, realise it’s simply a ploy of the ego to suck you in, and learn from it and try to do better next time.

Ego In The Workplace

1.  The need to be right

We all have different perspectives and quite often there are several possibilities whatever the problem.  The ego is definitely in play when we make ourselves right and others wrong.  Win/win thinking and behaviour to create better team working is the alternative.

2.  A sense of entitlement, or specialness

A sense of entitlement and a need to be special makes the workplace competitive and self-serving, with little regard for team working.  Individuals will have expectations about what they “deserve” and this usually means they believe others don’t deserve the same benefits, praise, salary etc. The alternative is to understand everyone makes a unique, albeit different contribution and everyone is part of the team and, therefore, valuable.

3.  Gossip

The problem with gossip is that it is mostly speculation about what might be rather than facts.   Unfortunately, speculation can grow and cause fear and discontent unnecessarily.  Not only is gossip negative energy but it is also a waste of time.   Hearing someone gossip about someone else does little to endear a person to them, it creates a wedge of distrust because if they can talk about others behind their backs: they might be doing the same to you.  The alternative is to create great conversations about our own experiences, inviting others to contribute their own.  Sticking to facts and not getting personal about others.  Discussing your thoughts, feelings etc., without attributing or assuming what other people’s motives, thoughts or feelings might be, is a way to create better team working.

4.  “Yes person” mentality, not being one’s true self

People pleasing, especially in a hierarchical team-working structure, results in a lack of growth and a denial of unique talents and contributions.  A result of a need to be liked stemming from a fear of not being good enough, or of being rejected for speaking up; some leaders encourage this trait in team members because it makes them feel secure.  The alternative is to speak your truth but to do it in a way which respects everyone else’s too.

5.  Complaining

Complaining about others is a method we use to assert the wrongness of others and the rightness of ourselves.  It is an ego tool to distract us from trying to understand and be forgiving of others, and instead use blame to protect our image of ourselves.  The alternative is to put ourselves in another’s shoes and to try to understand their perspective.  Stick with the facts and not take or make things personal.

6. Competitiveness Over Collaboration

In the realm of ego in the workplace, competitiveness over collaboration stands out as a significant issue. This trait involves prioritizing personal achievements and accolades over the collective success of the team. Such an approach can create a toxic work environment where cooperation and teamwork are undervalued. In workplaces where “ego in the workplace” dominates, collaborative efforts are often overshadowed by individual pursuits, leading to a breakdown in team cohesion and efficiency. Encouraging a culture where team accomplishments are celebrated over individual triumphs can mitigate this issue, fostering a more inclusive and productive workplace.

7. Resisting Feedback

Ego in the workplace often manifests as an inability to accept constructive criticism. Individuals who resist feedback typically view it as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for growth. This behaviour can stifle personal and professional development and create barriers to effective communication within a team. A workplace culture that encourages open, constructive feedback and views it as a tool for improvement rather than criticism can help in managing ego and promoting a more adaptive and learning-oriented work environment.

8. Lack of Empathy

A lack of empathy, driven by ego in the workplace, can lead to a failure in understanding or respecting colleagues’ perspectives. This trait undermines team dynamics and can result in conflict and decreased morale. Empathy is crucial for creating a supportive and understanding work environment. When team members are empathetic, they foster a culture of mutual respect and understanding, which is vital for effective collaboration and problem-solving.

9. Need for Constant Recognition

The need for constant recognition is a trait of ego in the workplace that involves seeking excessive praise and validation. While recognition is important for motivation, an overemphasis on it can lead to a dependency that undermines team spirit. This behaviour can also overshadow the contributions of others. Balancing recognition with a focus on collective achievements can create a more equitable and motivating work environment.

10. Inflexibility

Inflexibility, often driven by ego, is characterized by an unwillingness to adapt or compromise. In the workplace, this trait can hinder progress and innovation. Flexible thinking and adaptability are key in a rapidly changing work environment. Promoting a culture that values diverse perspectives and is open to new ideas can help reduce the negative impacts of inflexibility.

11. Micromanagement

Micromanagement, a form of ego in the workplace, involves exerting excessive control over team members, undermining their autonomy and confidence. Behaviour can demotivate employees and stifle creativity and initiative. Encouraging a more trusting and empowering approach can help in creating a more dynamic and engaged workforce.

12. Avoidance of Accountability

Avoiding accountability is a clear sign of ego in the workplace. This trait involves shifting blame and not owning up to mistakes. A culture that encourages taking responsibility and learning from errors can foster a more resilient and accountable workforce.

13. Overconfidence

Overconfidence, a manifestation of ego in the workplace, leads to excessive self-assurance and often results in poor decision-making. While confidence is important, overconfidence can blind individuals to potential risks and alternative perspectives. Promoting a culture of humility and continuous learning can mitigate the risks associated with overconfidence.

14. Dismissal of Ideas

The dismissal of ideas, driven by ego in the workplace, involves ignoring or devaluing colleagues’ contributions. This behaviour can stifle innovation and discourage team members from sharing their thoughts. Encouraging open dialogue and valuing all contributions can create a more inclusive and innovative work environment.

15. Hoarding Information

Hoarding information to maintain a sense of superiority is a negative trait of ego in the workplace. This behaviour undermines teamwork and trust. Promoting transparency and knowledge sharing can help in creating a more collaborative and informed team.

16. Manipulative Behaviors

Manipulative behaviours, driven by ego in the workplace, involve using influence for personal gain rather than for the benefit of the team. This undermines trust and ethical standards in the workplace. Encouraging integrity and ethical behaviour can help in mitigating the negative impacts of manipulation.

17. Creating Conflict

Engaging in or exacerbating workplace disputes is a sign of ego in the workplace. This behaviour disrupts harmony and hinders productivity. Promoting conflict resolution skills and a culture of respect can help in reducing unnecessary conflicts.

18. Intolerance to Change

Intolerance to change, a trait of ego in the workplace, involves resisting new ideas or approaches. This can hinder innovation and adaptability. Encouraging a culture that embraces change and sees it as an opportunity for growth can help in overcoming this barrier.

19. Lack of Transparency

A lack of transparency, driven by ego in the workplace, involves withholding information or being deceitful. This behaviour erodes trust and hampers effective communication. Promoting openness and honesty can help in building a more transparent and trustworthy work environment.

20. Self-Centered Goals

Focusing solely on personal objectives, and not on team or organizational goals, is a trait of ego in the workplace. This approach can undermine team cohesion and organizational objectives. Encouraging alignment of personal goals with team and organizational objectives can create a more unified and effective

So there you have the ego in the workplace you should leave at home.  Easier said than done, and we all fall into the trap at some time.  Do you have any other ego traits you think should be left at home?  Do you think the ego has a place in the workplace, and in generating great team-working?  I’d love to hear your views.

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

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