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A Leaders Ego Can be a Pervasive and Damaging Problem


There is a program on CNBC called The Profit. It features Marcus Lemonis the owner of a multi-billion dollar company, Camping World. Lemonis works with struggling businesses desperate for cash and keen for a deal. The promo states that he has turned around over 100 companies in the past 10 years. Lemonis offers cash for a piece of the business and a percentage of the profits.

I find the program fascinating for two reasons; first, the way Marcus Lemonis solves business problems and improves the business and second, observing the behavior and reaction of the founder or owner of the business reacting to losing control. When the ego of the owner comes into play, despite Lemonis infusing his own capital into the business, there can be resistance, suspicion and even anger from an owner. In one episode Lemonis walks away from a deal and even took a financial loss because one of the owners kept resisting the introduction of new ideas, obviously driven by ego.

Ego is a necessary ingredient for those who seek to lead and inspire. It is usually more prevalent among entrepreneurs Problems surface when a leader’s ego dominates particular issues or actions. According to Jeff Hadene: “Ego is necessary and important because it does the work to assemble your personality. It manages your fragile identity while you figure out who you are. It protects you from the onslaught of societal expectations and motivates you to work hard and achieve great things.” Merriam-Webster presents the following synonyms for ego; pride, pridefulness, self-esteem, self-regard, self-respect.

Indications of a leader’s ego getting in the way:

  • New ideas are resisted especially when introduced by a subordinate
  • The leader introduces a new concept or program, seeks feedback from subordinates but eventually dismisses any criticism or negative feedback. Defending ideas ultimately turns into becoming defensive.
  • Prematurely criticizing someone else’s ideas without considering their value
  •  Seeking respect and recognition from others
  • Often taking it personally when someone disagrees with your ideas

In order for a leader to suppress and control his or her ego they should:

  • Listen to subordinates and employees and ask questions.
  • Engage with subordinates and others and display interest in them.
  • Identify and work to develop new leaders. Mentor others on how it is done. Make good and timely Decisions.
  • Respect and encourage subordinates and employees.
  •  Display enthusiasm when interacting with your employees and exhibit a positive attitude

Those that lead others possess an ego that drives them to success. Ego can exist in varying degrees. Those who start businesses and rise to lead companies are driven by an ego that the average person doesn’t have. However, if a leaders ego is not controlled it can lead to failure and disappointment. 

2015 FranchiseKnowHow, LLC

Ed Teixeira is the President of FranchiseKnowHow.com and Chief Operating Officer, FranchiseGrade.com. He is a former franchise executive and franchisee. He can be contacted at 631-246-5782 or at  franchiseknowhow@gmail.com


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