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Keeping the Options Open

by Brian Ray

After multiple encounters over the past few weeks with several personalities in the corporate world that were on the verge of being out of control, those recent experiences inspired me to create a new series of blog entries over the coming months.  These entries will be focused on the ramifications and effects surrounding ego in the business world.

Let’s face facts, many individuals in business leadership positions have created an illusion for themselves that their ideas are the best and their word on every subject within their sphere of influence is final, no matter what.  Even though evidence to the contrary can be staring them right in the face, and people could be shouting the truth of it at them all day long, but in their minds it doesn’t matter.  They will do whatever they want, no matter what, because they are the boss, so to their line of thinking that makes them automatically correct.

This brings us to what is one of the most important, yet difficult to achieve, aspects of Management and Leadership in general – keeping an open mind.  Unfortunately, this concept is utterly disregarded by many individuals in leadership positions throughout the corporate world today.

The reasons for this can be somewhat varied, but one of the main reasons is that avoiding this kind of disregard requires absolute mastery over one’s ego.  As the old adage goes – it is very easy to let the power go to your head.  However, a conscious choice must be made by the individual in question to ensure that this negativity does not occur.

Another major reason for this problem occurring is quite simply – fear.  This fear manifests itself in the leader’s mind in a way that the person feels that if they do not present the best ideas and solutions at all times; it will make them appear weak or incompetent to their departments, peers and upper Management.  However, the reverse is actually true.  By being a tyrant and closing their mind to other possibilities, it makes the leader in question appear, rigid, unyielding, and unapproachable.  That perspective then has a domino effect which spreads like wildfire amongst other member of the organization.  Individuals will begin to avoid the Manager in question at all costs, and/or keep themselves at arms-length in every encounter to minimize contact.  Not a very productive scenario at all.

In the corporate world’s current climate of the “me, me, only me” mentality, facing up to the fact that they do not have all the answers is very disconcerting for the person involved as it shatters the illusion and identity of self-perfection that many individuals have built up within their own minds.  So in order to avoid facing that reality, they live in absolute denial of the truth, causing everyone around them to suffer for their delusions.

So, what can be done? Well, in order to combat this problem and ensure that issues are resolved effectively within the workplace, a leader must always remember that just because you are in a Management position does not mean that you always have the best ideas or solutions.  Those that master this mentality ultimately become very formidable.  Two examples would be Steve Jobs of Apple Inc., and Alan Mullaly from Ford Motor Company.  Individuals who reached the pinnacle of business success, yet they would be the first to tell you that they did not achieve this greatness solely on their own.  They had the support, insight, and skills of hundreds (in many cases thousands) of hard-working, caring employees who also wanted to see their respective companies succeed just as much.  Learning early on that swallowing the pride and being open to new perspectives allowed them to broaden not only their own horizons, but that of their respective companies as well.

Therefore, as a business professional, be open to suggestions from your peers and team members, and keep your ego in check by facing the fact that no one person can know it all. Then, when good, viable options are presented by others, sincerely tell those individual(s) who presented them that you are grateful for their input.  That action will demonstrate to the other members of the organization that their perspectives matter, which has an extremely positive effective on the entire atmoshpere.  This will also go a long way toward expanding your own perspectives, not to mention that it will place you on the path of true leadership, and help avoid the self-destructive path of egocentrism.

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