Check your ego at the door
Organizations benefit when leaders transition from ‘me’ to ‘we,’ says Netflix executive Nikkia Reveillac.
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Nikkia Reveillac believes in egoless leadership. That can come in many different forms, but Netflix’s director of consumer insights believes that getting the best out of a workplace starts with leaders checking their egos at the door.
A transformational leader who leads without ego brings about the highest levels of performance; builds relationships rooted in trust, credibility, and confidence; and cultivates healthy, collaborative, and psychologically safe work environments.
“Being an egoless leader is about putting people at the center of one’s desire to deliver results,” says Reveillac, speaking Wednesday at the 2022 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference in Los Angeles. “It seems intuitive, but so many of us get it wrong. Too much ego can be exceedingly detrimental to good leadership.”
Signs of ego-full leadership include micromanagement, manipulation, excessive control, aggression, impatience, and gaslighting.
While ego-full leaders may yield short-term results, Reveillac says workplaces with an ego-full leader may exhibit a lack of candor, withhold critical information, and have low morale, reduced productivity, weakened loyalty, attrition, and profit loss.
Reveillac adds that leaders must move from a “me” to a “we” mindset and understand that transformational, ego-less leadership filters throughout the organization and benefits both employees and the bottom line.
The Trinidad and Tobago native believes being a good manager does not equal being a good leader. She uses an iceberg as a symbol to show this distinction.
“Above the surface, good managers have certain things that give them status, like title, scope of responsibilities, and budget control,” she says. “But what makes a good manager also a good leader lies below the surface. I like to refer to it as the ‘work around the work.’”
The work around the work is hard to train, but Reveillac believes good leaders take it seriously and focus on:
- Building trusting relationships.
- Cultivating psychological safety.
- Discovering team members’ work histories and traumas.
- Understanding communication preferences and pet peeves.
- Developing team cohesion.
- Creating a sense of shared purpose, or a “north star.”
Leaders must also be ready to adapt. Reveillac notes that society has been dealing with unprecedented times. A transformational leader must be aware of these issues and that they provide a backdrop for many employees’ lives.
With that in mind, she recognizes eight steps to becoming an ego-less leader:
- Self-awareness. Understand your starting point.
- Candor. Be honest in sharing that you’re on a journey.
- Curiosity. Inquire about people’s lived experiences.
- Empathy. Recognize that others are on a different path.
- Humility. Accept you don’t know it all.
- Growth mindset. Embrace the fact that others may know more than you.
- People first. Realize that we’re humans before we’re workers.
- We vs. me. Appreciate that when they shine, you shine.
Reveillac says the first steps of this journey are to “learn about people and their diverse lived experiences and perspectives, listen more and ensure that the quietest voices contribute, and value unique contributions around the table.”