If this is your first time listening to or reading the Monday Moment, you might be inclined to think violence is suggested with the use of the term level. Humorous and tempting, but not the case in this moment. Although, those leaders who are rather egomaniacal may lead you to imagine ways to level them with your bare hands and I get it. Instead, leveling these leaders is more about setting them straight, straightening them up, or at a minimum, preventing their highly developed, or even needy, ego, from overpowering or having a negative impact on you. Let’s get started, shall we? Time’s a wasting and the more they talk, the more their ego might be bugging you.
Hear Them Out
Often those with overbearing egos have learned that in order to be heard, they must talk above and over and at everyone else. The behavior could stem from a plethora of reasons, but it is disarming as all heck when someone simply hears them out and listens intently to each and every word they utter. Leaders are no different than regular people with big egos, except for the fact that coaching or discipline may have taught a leader to cover the ego a bit better. The act of covering only increases the likelihood that what he or she says will sound condescending. Prevent their need to cover, by eliminating the reason behind their behavior. Your leader has no reason to be overbearing or talk all about themselves incessantly if you listen closely, look them in the eye, show them you’re hearing what they are and are not saying, and pay undivided attention to their message. Do that once, twice, maybe three times and the ego should get toned down to a minimum, particularly when they begin to trust your actions will be consistent and you really do seem to have interest.
Help Them Out
No one wants to offer help to someone who’s convinced of their own magnificence, far beyond what would be considered reasonable self-respect or confidence. We’re talking ego here and those who have a big one often believe they are far more important, special, and talented than any other person. Help them see you believe in what is their perceived reality, but tread carefully. With compassion and sincerity, compliment a skill or action you truly believe they do well. Feed their insecurity, but honestly. This isn’t the time for sarcasm or puffery or a lack of integrity. If you can’t see value, choose a different approach. If you can see value in what this even egotistical leader does, their need to promote how good they are in your presence, will tone down markedly when he or she realizes you already see their well-honed skills and talents. Help them to realize you see what they see by simply verbalizing the positive attributes you see in their words or actions.
Leaders with larger than life egos can talk all through meetings, take over training programs, and prevent others from contributing all together. As a meeting facilitator, office manager, colleague, or even trainer, their behavior can be tricky to manage. If you show too much force, it gets awkward. If you invite them to shush too often, they tend to talk more, but apologize for doing it. Build in talking limits by giving each participant some form of a talking stick, just as the one passed around in the folklore of Native American leadership circles. Your “talking stick” could be three playing cards for each person. When the cards are done, so are their contributions. You could use candy, pens, stickers, office envelopes, poker chips, or you name it. The point and purpose, is to limit the contributions of each person in a group setting without offending the one who’s ego is running away with the meeting.
Every leader, spouse and person should now be familiar with the reality that you cannot control the actions or words of another. The only element in a two-or-more person interaction, over which you have complete control is your own behavior and your own attitude. How much does the leader with an ego really bug you? If you try these steps and it helps a little, but you’re still boiling over in frustration, have you ever asked yourself why that is, exactly? Envy is powerful. Rejection and comparison are two other elements that provoke powerful negative emotions. Maybe your boss or leader is an egomaniac. Okay. And? Last time I checked, the only way others’ words, actions, and deeds affect us negatively, is if we let them. Level out their ego driven behavior with these techniques and then look to level out your mindset about why it’s such a problem if their ego is bigger than your office space. Doesn’t that mean they’ll visit less often? Oh, and humor also helps with mindset when dealing with the high ego of another person.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.