First off, I really detest the word ego—just saying, it makes me cringe.
Truth be told, it makes me think of one of those chauvinistic celebrity types who throws a fit if his spiced caramel macchiato is three degrees too hot for his delicate tongue.
But I digress …
Let’s look at the actual definition of the word “ego” with a bit of help from Mr. Merriam Webster, himself: “The ‘I’ or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.”
So, in laymen’s terms, an ego is a sense of self that you use to distinguish yourself from others that surround you—that doesn’t sound too bad, now does it?
The danger of an ego is having it become inflated to the point where it affects your job and the professional relationships that you’ve developed. Believe it or not, though, as long as it doesn’t get out of control, having an ego can actually be quite beneficial when it comes to business.
An ego often gets you what you want
If you believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities, then you should have no qualms about asking for what you think you deserve.
Do you need more time to finish a project? Simply provide the reasons for why an extra day or two could make what you’re working on something truly great. What if you’re in need of an extra sick day? If you know that you’re capable of catching up, why not ask for one?
What if you feel like you can be tasked with the leadership of a committee? If you know that you have the talent, then without a moment’s hesitation, do it to it. Show your peers, coworkers or boss that you know what you’re capable of, and then go out and make it happen.
It’s as simple as that.
An ego can help you be a better leader
Knowing your abilities can help you make important decisions, and if you’re willing to showcase them, it will prevent you from downplaying your value. This knowledge can also help you know in what ways you can help other members of your team succeed.
Showing a willingness to let others see your strengths, as well as weaknesses, demonstrates your self-awareness (and emotional intelligence) and that you’re not likely to judge others for what they can or can’t accomplish.
Having self-confidence allows you to step up and show others that you’re willing to take on a challenge, because you know that whether or not you succeed, you will be better off because you were willing to test yourself and allow yourself to grow.
It also shows that you’re willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the group.
An ego sets you sets you apart
“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” — Margaret Thatcher.
The “Yes Man” is boring. If you want to be respected, and for people to recognize what you have to offer in a professional environment, then you have to be willing to exude confidence.
By letting people see the real you, and that you aren’t willing to change yourself to simply fit in and be well liked, you let others know that you’re comfortable with who you are.
Confidence is appealing and can draw all kinds of people towards you.
Wrapping things up
“Ego” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Really, it all depends on how you define it.
It’s never a bad thing to believe firmly in yourself and what you can do. That said, don’t let an ego go to your head, falsely convincing yourself that there’s no need to ever improve.
Business has never worked that way, and it never will.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.