That young drama student’s statement moved me: If you go on stage to celebrate yourself, your ugly ego shines through and kills your performance.
We were sitting next to each other at a concert and chatted during the breaks. She was still in university and not a professional, yet, but from what we had seen on stage, I could realize how true her observation was.
The singer’s voice was marvelous. The looks perfectly tuned. Yet, you could feel there was a show ongoing instead of being in love with the singing itself. Although everything was perfect, it did not move the heart – rather the opposite.
With the next song, my mind wandered. Isn’t it the same in business? How much do we dislike colleagues showing off their egos?
And then again … am I showing off at times, too? Isn’t it part of what we do in business? Performing on the stage of numbers, charts and business plans?
There seems to be a fine line between doing a good job and showing off the ego. How can you check yourself on which side of the line you are acting?
One parameter seems to be your intention. Why are you doing what you are doing, e.g. giving feedback, talk about a colleague or praise your own contribution.
When giving feedback, the ideal intention is to let the other person grow and become a better version of himself/herself. Inwardly, you can feel this urge to see the other person prosper. This is why you would even give ‘hard feedback’ – ‘hard’ in the sense that you don’t like giving the feedback, but you know the other person will profit from it. In contrary, when you want to make the other person feel bad – or maybe just feel superior towards the other person – it is a strong indicator that your ego is showing off and that you should refrain from giving feedback.
When you talk about a colleague, question yourself to whom this talk is beneficial. If you speak praise and raise the other person up, it’s a good one. When letting others know, how much better you are … you just might show the ugly side of your ego and you do not even profit from your behaviour.
Business requires that you sometimes tell others what your contribution was in a certain setting. Do it without exaggeration. Be precise. But don’t take all the glory for yourself. If you are that good, others will tell you soon enough without your self-promotion.
Just as the performer on the stage is disliked by the audience for his/her ugly ego, your career will be limited as colleagues and bosses won’t promote you, leave your teams and start avoiding you, if you continue to be a show off.