In business, the way we carry and present ourselves - not only to existing and potential clients but also competitors, colleagues and staff members - can affect our reputation as well as impact the forming and maintaining of professional relationships.
Keeping your ego in check is important for a variety of reasons, however, this does not mean it needs to be silenced completely. A confident, charismatic leader is able to inspire their staff. The key is striking a balance, and this is best done by considering how your behaviours both negatively and positively affect the business and all the factors it encompasses.
Building the image
The last thing any business owner wants to do is advertise their doubts or insecurities to clients or competitors. Healthy business egos can do wonders for projecting an image of success, even in times when we may doubt our own abilities. We so often focus on our shortcomings and the things we could have done differently. Focusing on your strengths and abilities will not only boost self-esteem, it will mentally prepare you for further success.
A healthy ego is at its best when it's telling your clients or your staff "I can do that for you." It provides a message that you as the owner can make things happen, and that as long as you are around, others needn't worry. For a customer or employee, this can offer a feeling of safety and inspire confidence as well. There is, however, a fine line between confidence and arrogance. A good way of keeping your business ego in check is to treat it as a business tool rather than a self-serving trait. Aim to build up the image of your business as a whole rather than simply your own.
Setting boundaries and standards
Another benefit of a healthy ego in business is that it demands excellence. When we believe in ourselves and our abilities, we are able to demand the things we need - for our clients, our staff and ourselves. Remember though that your demands and expectations should bear as heavily on you as they do on others.
Leading with grace
Within the confines of your working environment, the problems that an overactive ego can bring start to present themselves. When we lead with an inflated opinion of ourselves, very little leadership is actually seen. The best interests of the business can suffer because, rather than serving our business, we are serving ourselves. An incessant need to be right, a preoccupation with our abilities or success and a desire to show up others will not only lead to a negative working environment, it can leave you with a team that thinks very little of you. Instead, aim to encourage confidence and foster drive in your team by example.
Many business owners, particularly those starting out, often find themselves looking at those who came before, and naturally try to emulate their success. When we look at some of the biggest names in business, it can seem that with great success often comes an inflated ego. It is important to remember, however, that the image a business owner portrays 'out there' can often be very different to the way they behave within their business.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.