“Leave your ego at the door” is a popular expression that I’ve seen referenced and promoted in many places, particularly in business and fitness facilities. Like many, I have often used this phrase as a measure of one’s self worth, with the assumption that a big ego always has a negative connotation. Through my work over the last three years at The Devine Group and through my own research into the behavior of “Ego” my thinking on this topic has changed.
Ego is one of 33 behaviors that our Devine Inventory assessment measures. In our tools, Ego is defined as “gaining respect and demonstrating confidence”. Merriam-Webster defines Ego as “the self, especially as contrasted with another self or the world”. This gets at the point that there are really two components of ego, the first focused on sense of self, and second based on how we are perceived and/or recognized by others.
When it comes to our own sense of self, too low of an ego can be a bad thing, and vice versa. Rather than have a big ego, optimally it is healthy to have a “strong” ego, where there’s a healthy and confident sense of self. In fact, those with a strong ego can be more flexible, resilient and adaptable to change, as they understand themselves and know how to adapt to our ever-changing world.
Evaluating a person’s ego gets tricky when you factor in that second component – an individual’s need or desire for recognition – as a person’s drive to be acknowledged may initiate some bad behaviors that will negatively influence the perception of ego. The drive to deserve recognition may cover up the reality that someone has a low sense of self, or the opposite may be the case, whereas someone’s self-worth is extremely high, and he or she wants everyone to know about it.
Optimally, there’s a balance between strong self of sense, and a moderate need for recognition that keeps an individual healthy and happy. Be careful how you assess an individual’s ego – there may be more to it than you think!
The Devine Group’s competency-based assessments roll all 33 behaviors for which we assess into characteristics that relate to success on the job. See how it works for yourself and get a free demo today!