In the opening scene of Collateral Beauty, Will Smith the CEO of a New York-based advertising agency is tasked with delivering an inspirational speech to his employees in an all-hands meeting. He asks his employees, “What is your why?” He recapitulates, “Love. Time. Death.” We long for love. We wish we had more time. And we all fear death. Three years later, the swag is gone. He has lost his purpose. He has lost his 6-year-old daughter from a rare form of cancer, his wife has left, and he is virtually catatonic. He spends his time in the office creating expansive domino constructs.
Whether you are pursuing a career or building a business, you need to have your fundamentals in place. The fundamentals are mostly why do you do the things you do? Fundamentals also draw inspiration from your core values as a person or as an organization.
Most brands and individuals have got their fundamentals in place, yet we don’t trust them. Perhaps the problem is professionalism? Most brands seem to have high standards. And most bosses, seem to be professionally qualified, at least on paper.
Brands warble on about purpose, then Pepsi sues farmers for growing potatoes over patent and Lodha sues a homebuyer for exposing poor-quality of construction. And bosses? Some take the corner office, show off in meetings, hide when it’s their turn.
The trust problem of our times is Ego. Ego kills purpose.
Ego: It’s bad for you and your business
If you desire trust and respect as an individual or as an organization you will have to ditch your ego. Senior positions always come with the risk of insularity. The higher a leader rises in his ranks, the more they are at risk of getting an inflated ego. As the ego grows, the more you are at the risk of losing in touch with your colleagues, the culture and ultimately the clients.
Ego makes people with power susceptible to manipulation: it narrows their field of vision, its corrupts their behaviour and often causing them to act against their own values. As a leader with an inflated ego, you will always look for information which confirms what you want to believe.
To let go of your ego you have to surround yourself with people who won’t feed your ego. Let go of some of the perks of your job unless they help you do your job effectively.
Make a list of people every week who helped you do your job well. This will help you as a leader to see how you are not the only cause of your success. Send a message of gratitude to the ones who did.
Lastly, make the corner office a team room. Let others present. Have lunch with those who lead your office – and those who clean it.