High-Performance Team: The Crucial Art of Checking the Ego

Mandar Kale
3 min readMar 9, 2024
Photo by Orkun Azap on Unsplash

In the realm of leadership, the ego can be both a formidable ally and a treacherous foe. While a healthy dose of self-confidence and belief in one’s abilities can propel a leader to great heights, unchecked ego can swiftly blind them to their shortcomings and undermine the success of their team. In this blog, we explore why and how leaders must cultivate self-awareness and humility to keep their egos in check, while also acknowledging the importance of a balanced team ego.

The Pitfalls of Unchecked Ego

Ego, when left unexamined, has a knack for distorting reality. It can lead a leader to overestimate their capabilities, dismiss valuable input from others, and make decisions driven more by personal agenda than the collective good. As a result, team dynamics suffer, innovation stalls, and trust erodes.

Blinded by the Ego

One of the most insidious ways ego blinds a leader is through the phenomenon of confirmation bias. When leaders are convinced of their infallibility, they become prone to seeking out information that confirms their preconceived notions while disregarding dissenting voices. This tunnel vision can lead to poor decision-making and missed growth opportunities.

Moreover, ego can cloud judgment by fostering a reluctance to admit mistakes or ask for help. Leaders who are unwilling to acknowledge their fallibility are doomed to repeat their errors, stunting their personal development and hindering the progress of their team.

Cultivating Self-Awareness and Humility

The antidote to unchecked ego lies in cultivating self-awareness and humility. Leaders must actively seek feedback from their team members and be open to constructive criticism. By acknowledging their limitations and vulnerabilities, they create an environment where others feel empowered to speak up and contribute their insights.

Practicing humility also involves recognizing and celebrating the contributions of others. A leader who acknowledges the collective effort behind their successes fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect within the team. This, in turn, cultivates a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

Balancing Individual and Team Ego

While individual ego must be kept in check, it’s important to note that not all ego is inherently bad. A healthy level of self-confidence is essential for effective leadership, enabling individuals to inspire others, take calculated risks, and navigate challenges with resilience.

However, the key lies in ensuring that the ego serves the greater good rather than personal aggrandizement. Leaders must prioritize the success of the team above their ambitions, fostering a culture where collective achievements are celebrated and individual accolades are secondary.

A simple thing to keep in mind is collective team ego should be greater than an individual ego at all times.

Conclusion

I wrote about the importance of a feedback-driven culture for nurturing a high-performance team. In the complex leadership landscape, checking the ego is not merely a nicety — it’s a necessity for long-term success. Leaders can steer their organisations towards greater innovation, collaboration, and collective achievement by cultivating self-awareness, humility, and a balanced perspective on individual and team ego.

As the adage goes, it’s NOT about being the best in the team, but about bringing out the best in the team.

--

--