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Modern Leaders Need To Keep Learning And To Stay Humble

Source | | Roger Trapp

It is hard to argue with the claim in the forthcoming book Leading Beyond The Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader (Routledge) that much of the extensive literature on leadership concentrates on what individuals need to do to be regarded as good leaders. The problem is there is little about how they can go about becoming better. This might be partly down to the fact that leadership is – for all the protestations to the contrary – still regarded as something you are either good at or not. People still talk about “natural leaders” in a way that they never do about managers. The implication being that, despite all the efforts put into executive development, the standard of management might have gone up but there is still a shortage of effective leaders. That, at least, might help explain the hefty remuneration many CEOs enjoy.

But it is possible that there is another reason why so few individuals seem able to live up to what is expected of the modern leader. This is an excess of confidence, arrogance or – as increasing numbers of experts put it – ego. It appears that many people believe they are promoted into leadership positions because they have already exhibited the qualities – strategic vision, drive, a determination to hit targets etc – that they think are required. In such circumstances, it is perhaps understandable that they do not see the need to change or to do things at all differently.

It is surely no accident that so many business books feature the word “ego” in their titles. Ryan Holiday, marketing expert and author of, among other books, Ego Is The Enemy says that it is at least in part down to living a world in which people are fixated on celebrity, in which “social media are begging for your opinion on everything” and in which “fame has become our most valuable currency.” But that does not mean that people should not fight it. As well as being an undesirable personal trait, ego leads an individual to be separated from the world around him or her, with often disastrous consequences for decision-making.

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