No business growth without personal growth. Without you as a founder improving, upgrading and removing old versions of yourself, you will be stuck in a company of the same size with the same daily activities from start to finish. All your energy will be spent on keeping it 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 could be stopping your business success.
1. Retention of Responsibilities
You used to do everything. Every task was yours, every process had your name on it. You took pride in owning every detail and you rushed to make sure everything you committed to was done. Things are different now, but you haven’t really changed enough.
There are tasks that you are in charge of that may belong to someone else. Deep down you know it, but you don’t let them go. Maybe you’re afraid someone else is doing them wrong, you’re afraid of losing control, or you’re kidding yourself that they just need to be done by you. Either way, doing old tasks repeatedly stops you from doing the new tasks that represent growth for everyone involved.
As a founder, your responsibilities are transient. You would have to make a continuous journey of putting yourself out of work, handing over your tasks to well-trained team members and finding new ones.
2. Need to solve every problem
You feel a sense of accomplishment in solving a problem and seeing the solution worked. It’s normal and it happens to everyone. But if you can’t resist the urge to provide answers to every glitch in your business, it will cost your team members the chance to experience that feeling.
You have the experience, your intuition is right, and you could solve the problem faster than most, but without having to think about answers, you exercise a confidence in you that only gets worse. You don’t want a horde of copycats, you want a team of self-sufficient and resourceful partners. The only way to do that is to equip them with the decision making tools and let them use them.
As your business grows, your problems should get bigger. If your teammates play their part, they’ll solve the smaller ones and only need you if it really hits the fan.
3. Must look busy
Getting from where you were to where you want to be requires a change in the way you work. Rushing to say yes to every request matched a version of you from the past. The future you are patient and balanced, hard thinking instead of hard working, zoomed out and visionary instead of down to earth and into every detail.
Taking long walks, meditating, and staring out the window thinking about the future doesn’t make you look very busy. The opposite is true; you look like you have nothing important to do. Your ego doesn’t like to look like that. It mistakenly believes that effective work is like sequential bookings and firing off emails ten at a time. It keeps you small because it tries to keep you in the past.
Without confidence in the clarity that empty space brings, it’s uncomfortable to look like you have nothing to do. But this is where the real magic happens, and your team will understand once you explain it.
4. Must know everything
In the first few years of running my agency, I knew each client’s name and their main business goals. I knew every team member inside out and understood every little detail of every administrative task. As the agency grew, I began to know less. My operations manager created new processes and tracked their completion, notifying me when she hit a roadblock. My account managers got to know all facets of their customers. The website was ranked and leads were coming in without actively pushing. I no longer needed to know all the ins and outs, but realizing this was not easy.
No one expects Jeff Bezos to know why their package didn’t arrive or calls Mark Zuckerberg to report an Instagram error. They don’t feel guilty about this lack of knowledge within their company, so why do you think you need to know everything that is happening? Needing to know everything is nothing but your ego trying to tell you that knowledge equals power. But there is more power in choosing what knowledge you have.
If you’ve trained the people responsible and you trust them to deliver, there’s no need to be in the weeds. Replace the space with new data, big plans and ideas for the future.
5. Demand that everything be done your way
Different doesn’t mean wrong. Give someone a role, outline their responsibilities and let them do their thing. They will produce output that looks different from what you expected and different from what you would have done. But that’s okay. The first time this happens, your ego is shaken. Concerned that you’re losing importance, it labels otherwise as wrong and tries to convince you to take back control.
More difficult than delegating a responsibility is keeping it delegated when you realize it was done differently. But keep going. By bridging this gap, you can let other people in and you can continue to progress. Falling on this hurdle means being forever overworked and overwhelmed with no way out.
Other people bring new perspectives, actionable insights and solutions you didn’t see. They will reach them in new ways and stopping half way will cost the results that will grow your business to new heights. Keep in mind that your way has an expiration date.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but acknowledging where your ego plays a part in limiting your success can mean moving right past it. Don’t let your inflated self-esteem and that chip on your shoulder stop you from building the empire that’s inside you.