There is no business growth without personal growth. Without you as the founder improving, upgrading and getting rid of the old version, you would stay in the same size business, the same every day from inception to retirement. All your energy goes into staying afloat. That’s not the plan. If your workload grows in direct proportion to your income, your ego may be putting a ceiling on your future.
Here are 5 ways your ego can get in the way of your business success.
1. Adherence to responsibilities
In the early days, you did everything. Every task is yours and every process has your name. You take pride in owning every detail and going around making sure everything you commit to is done. Things are different now, but you haven’t completely changed.
The tasks you are responsible for may be performed by someone else. Deep down, you know this, but you won’t let them go. Maybe you’re afraid that other people will do it wrong, you’re afraid of losing control, or maybe you’re deluding yourself that they just have to be yours. Either way, repeating old tasks prevents you from taking on new ones, which promote growth for everyone involved.
As a founder, your responsibilities are ephemeral. You should be constantly taking a break from work, handing over your responsibilities to trained team members, and looking for new ones.
2. Every problem needs to be solved
There is something satisfying about solving a problem and watching the effect of the solution. This is normal and happens to everyone. But not being able to resist the urge to fix every little glitch in your business can rob your team members of that feeling.
You have experience, your instincts are right, you can solve problems faster than most, but without staying to think about the answers, you develop a dependency on you that only gets worse. You don’t need a bunch of copycats, you need a team of self-sufficient and resourceful partners. The only way to do that is to equip them with decision-making tools and let them use them.
If your business grows, your problems should get bigger and bigger. If your team members play their part, they’ll fix the smaller problems and you’ll only be needed when it’s time to really get fans.
3. Need to look busy
Getting from where you are to where you want to go requires a change in the way you work. Rushing and saying yes to every request matches a past you. In the future you are patient and poised, thinking hard rather than working hard, looking to the future instead of keeping your feet on the ground and paying attention to every detail.
When you take long walks, meditate, gaze out the window and contemplate the future, you don’t look very busy. Or vice versa; you look like you don’t have anything important to do. Your ego doesn’t like to see it that way. It makes the mistake of thinking that effective work looks like back-to-back bookings and sending ten emails at a time. It keeps you playing small games because it tries to keep you in the past.
Without confidence in the clarity that white space brings, it can be uncomfortable to look like you have nothing to do. But this is where the real magic happens, as soon as you explain it, your team gets it.
4. Must know everything
During the first few years of running my agency, I knew each client by name and their top business goals. I know every team member inside out and know every detail of every administrative task. As the agency grew, I started to know less and less. My operations manager creates new processes and tracks them to completion, letting me know when she hits a roadblock. My account managers know every aspect of their clients. Site rankings and leads coming in are not actively driven. I no longer need to know all the ins and outs, but realize it’s not easy.
No one expected Jeff Bezos to know why their package didn’t arrive or to call Mark Zuckerberg to report an Instagram glitch. They don’t feel guilty about lack of knowledge in the business, so why do you think you have to know everything that’s going on? Must know that everything is nothing more than your ego trying to tell you that knowledge equals power. But there is greater power in choosing the knowledge you possess.
If you’ve trained the people in charge and you trust them to deliver, it’s redundant in the weeds. Replace the space with new data, big plans, and ideas for the way forward.
5. Ask for everything to be done your way
Different does not mean wrong. Give someone a role, outline their responsibilities, and let them get on with it. They will produce output that looks different than what you expected and is different from what you did. But that’s okay. The first time this happens, your self-esteem takes a hit. Worrying that you are losing importance, it flags the difference as wrong and tries to convince you to take back control.
Even harder than delegating responsibility is continuing to delegate it when you realize it was done differently. But keep pushing. Overcoming that gap means you can let others in and you can continue to improve. Falling on this obstacle means being perpetually overworked and overwhelmed with no way out.
Others bring fresh perspectives, useful insights and solutions you haven’t seen before. They will reach them in novel ways, and stopping them halfway will pay, and those results will take your business to new heights. Take into account that your way has an expiry date.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but recognizing the role your ego plays in limiting your success could mean you can move beyond it. Don’t let your inflated sense of self and the stakes on your shoulders stop you from building your inner empire.