Your Biggest Blind Spot? It’s Probably Ego, According to Our Coaches
Even the most successful executives have blind spots.
“We define blind spots as an unrecognized weakness or threat that can limit your success,” says coach and former aerospace exec Alan Caslavka. “It can be an innate behavior or an environmental or competitive threat. Everyone has one, and it’s very difficult to pick up on it ourselves.”
Blind spots, if not addressed, can create long-lasting impacts on your business. But there’s good news: Once you identify one of your blind spots, you can implement changes to help work around them.
The #1 blind spot our coaches see? A BIG ego.
Why we all battle ego as leaders
The ego, in psychological terms, is the part of the mind that mediates conscious and unconscious desires. It’s what keeps the lizard brain at bay — but it also is responsible for giving us an inflated sense of self. Our egos crave power and influence, something easily accessible to you as a CEO.
“When you get to be a CEO, it’s natural to have a little bravado,” says Caslavka. “You’re at the top of the pyramid. You get into your chair and all of the sudden your jokes become funnier. Everybody listens intently when you’re speaking. Your conclusions are always the right conclusions. But you can’t fall into this trap.”
Executives driven by ego quickly lose their competitive edge. Without a reality check, decision-making breaks down and we can quickly spiral out of control. The thing is, we all struggle with ego at one point or another. It’s part of human nature.
Here’s how to overcome it, according to our expert coaches:
1. Adopt a growth mindset
As our CEO and Founding Partner Mark Moses likes to say, “The best CEOs are not know-it-alls. They are learn-it-alls.”
Flip the script your ego craves. You may have plenty of experience, but there is always more to learn. The world is constantly changing, which is why the best CEOs read widely, listen to podcasts, and network with people inside and outside your organization. The more you can expand your perspective on the world, the better decisions you can make for your team and your company.
Cultivating the kind of vulnerability to admit you don’t know it all takes work. CEOs work in such high-pressure roles that they often feel the need to project unwavering strength and confidence at all times. But the best leaders learn when it’s time to lower that guard and be willing to say, “I don’t know. Let’s learn together.”
2. Solicit input from your team — and actually listen
The bigger your ego gets, the narrower your vision.
To keep your ego in check, set up a consistent process to receive input and feedback from your team on your decisions. The CEO’s strategy accounts for 45% of a company’s performance, according to McKinsey. The rest comes from your team.
“You’ve got to listen to the experts,” says Caslavka. “Pull yourself off that pedestal and listen to the team around you. You’re going to have a better outcome if you open your mind.”
You’ve hired them for a reason — make sure you’re giving them space to disagree with you, and actually listening to them if they do. “I believe everybody really wants to do a good job,” says coach and former Darden president John Fadool. “People want to succeed and success is contagious. They want to be part of a winning team. What a leader needs to do is to capitalize on people’s strengths so that they can.”
3. Practice gratitude daily
Cultivating humility is a lifelong practice that starts with remembering the journey that got you to this point.
“Humility is one of the most important traits of a leader,” says Fadool. “It’s all about realizing that as the leader, you don’t have all the answers. And when you realize this and you really internalize it, you’re willing to listen more, you’re willing to learn from others. You won’t let your pride get in the way of getting the information that you need to achieve the results that you want.”
Success comes from a combination of hard work and a few lucky breaks. Take a moment each day to reflect on the people that make your days successful and remember the person that needed one investor to take a chance on them, or one boss to give them a chance in a new role. Channel that gratitude whenever you can.
Identify your blind spots with an expert coach
If you find yourself battling your ego, you’re not alone. “It’s easy to get overconfident,” says Caslavka. “Remember that you’re a great employee and a great leader, but you’re not clairvoyant.”
By definition, it’s impossible to find your own blind spots. That’s where our expert coaches can help. They have years of executive leadership experience and know a thing or two about battling the ego. If you have questions or just want to connect with someone who knows what you’re going through, schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching session today.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.