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Managing Your Ego

13 July 2015

Janie read Why a Big Ego Could Be Your Downfall (and Seven Tips to Help You Hone Your Humility) by Edward D. Hess, and appreciated his concrete tips on ways to quiet your ego and develop more empathy for others.

Tags: communication, creativity, ed hess, empathy, janie read, leadership

My weekly to-do list is often pretty full with a lot of very tactical stuff, but I try to make time to take on projects and read things that will help me develop as a manager and leader. Last week, I was delighted when Ed Hess’s article popped up on my LinkedIn page. I always enjoyed learning from Ed when I supported some of his Executive Education programs at Darden, so I was really curious to read some of his latest thinking.

Hess begins by talking about how the business world has really changed in the 21st century. In the past, having a large ego was often considered a desirable trait for successful business people. Times have changed, and having the ability to quiet your ego, and develop your empathy and humility, is becoming critically important in the business world.

Hess includes many excellent tips about ways to actively work on developing more humility. One of my favorite points is his idea of embracing the “new smart,” i.e. knowing what you don’t know, and how to learn it. He also speaks of the importance of being able to ask the right questions, and to critically examine the answers. He encourages us to “engage in collaboration, seek out feedback, and ask for help daily.” Doing these things will help develop broader perspective and greater empathy.

Another suggestion that really resonated with me is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For me, this concept is particularly important when I’m talking with someone who I know very well. I often find myself jumping to conclusions while they are still in the middle of the story. I have a tendency to partially tune the other person out because I want to jump in with some tidbit that I think is important, or that I think will benefit them. Often, in these situations, what I really need to be doing is just listening to what they have to say. I am working on quieting these tendencies, and developing better active listening.

If you’re interested in developing better empathy and humility, I encourage you to take a look at this article. Hess references many other tips and techniques for honing these skills.


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