Management Tips

Ego, Leadership and a Chocolate Bar (a likely combo).

What do those three things have in common? Well, two of them; ego and leadership are likely symbiotic but a chocolate bar? You are just going to have to read on to find out.

I attended a panel discussion featuring Mirko Zardini this past week put on by the Daniels Lecture Series billed as Zoning Health: Architecture’s Curative Nature where he, alongside Bridgett Shim, discussed the relationships between architecture and human health and how both have been affected by technology. Throughout the discussion they both expanded organically on their opinions about how technology has, in turn, had a very slow affect on the built environment and the cities we live in.

Mirko, in his beautifully accented speaking voice, made a stunning observation.

He suggested that one of the reasons architecture is so slow to respond to emerging technologies is due to the architect him or herself. To paraphrase “Architects need to better understand that ego cannot solve the complex problems in building. Humility allows architecture to transcend beyond the physical to offer a solution for the good of humanity”.

Possibly a sweeping generalization (do ya think?) but regardless it certainly resonated with me.

Ego vs humility. Brilliant! Thanks Mirko.

Hey, I ‘m not an Architect (Interior Design rules!) but that reminded me about a time recently where I was working on a project opportunity that I had a ton of passion for and I let it go because it wasn’t going the way I thought it should. I spend a ton of time spouting off about leadership and I broke my own rules about leading. I gave up on something because I couldn’t figure out how to deal with it.

My ego cut in.

Fortunately I was able to give my head a shake, get myself in check, jump back in and we plodded on. The team is great and at the end of the day we did a great job and got a fantastic result considering what we had to work with. Did I demonstrate my leadership ability to get us there? Not really. I remember feeling critical about the process because it was not playing out the way I was expecting it to and that somehow lead me to lose the ability to see past what the solution needed to be. I didn’t put in the extra effort, listen and I didn’t do what I needed to do; lead. Hey, my career won’t suffer from this misjudgement but you know the saying “You are only as good as your last “                     insert project, idea, action, haircut or a multitude of other words. But speaking of action, not taking action does not bode well for someone in a leadership position. I can only learn from this one.

After all, unless you’re dead, you learn from your mistakes, right?

Ego vs humility. Brilliant.

Ego is a pain in the ass and it gets you into trouble, if you let it. I really do KNOW that but I let mine get hold of me. That narcissistic bastard snuck in and before I knew it I got bitchslapped. What have I learned here? I am not infallible. Oh, no! And it might just be ok to f**k up once in a while just as long as you see the mistake and fix it.

It’s not a boxing ring in here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not beating myself up, I am just recognizing and addressing my faults. I have no fear of being judged, after all everyone, even President Barack Obama, puts their pants on one leg at a time and like me, even Obama, makes the odd mistake. Just ask a Republican.

So, what have I learned?

  • Stop being afraid to just lead.
  • Believe help is important no matter your position in a situation.
  • Stick with it even if you think it’s going sideways.
  • Relax and take a deep breath.
  • Lead by example.

I hope that you can see some value in the error of my ways. I certainly had fun telling you about them. Yeah, right!

Have I discovered the Caramilk secret? Not even close.

Aha! There’s that chocolate bar reference. Just like the devil who has the answer (old 1980’s ad campaign) to which the competitive streak in all of us elicits that “I would do anything to get that secret” sacrificing everything for the need to win is our ultimate downfall. Leadership shouldn’t be about selling the farm for the Caramilk secret, it should be about putting in the effort and discovering the secret on our own. Signing in blood and selling your soul will only come back to bite you in the ass.

Don’t I know it!

Do you have any leadership tips that you would like to share?

I’m all ears. Literally……


About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


2 thoughts on “Ego, Leadership and a Chocolate Bar (a likely combo).

  1. I am constantly striving to be a better leader, and in doing so, read voraciously in an attempt to learn as much as I can about methods of leadership that speak to me. In saying that, I am also a Tao-ist in most ways and have found an amazing method of leading… without actually leading at all! Your blog entry this time was really great as it reminded me to remember humility and grace and reinforces the need to shelve that ego!

    My brother always reminds me that when my ego gets in the way, my judgement will not only be clouded, but I’ll be looking at myself and not at what’s around me– and I’ll miss ‘the thing’. The thing is a moving target and individual to each of us. The thing could be an actual sign or a suggestion, a person or something that reminds us of something else. If we’re not looking up and out, we’ll miss the thing and waste the potential to veer off on a new “road less travelled”. If we miss the thing, it’s gone.

    When I try and stay in the centre of the tornado of my life, I can watch everything swirl around me without getting caught up in in. When I am still, I can see everything and put things in a perspective that make sense to me. When I am still, facing up and out and watching for the thing, I am at my best and am the best leader– the best because in that time, I am uncluttered and clear.

    I love that I have mentors who show me the way to be better (you’re married to one) and I love to lead from the back seat, empowering my team to make their own decisions on a path they have chosen… the whole while, seeing many of the options before they’re even clear to the group. I lead from a place of calm and assured clarity.

    I don’t need the Caramilk secret. I’ve never really wanted what everyone else did anyway. I just need to know that, as a strong woman, I can be true to myself and give the best parts of me to my team whenever they need it. Their success is mine… and that’s what matters most.

    Posted by Dayna Bradley | January 21, 2012, 13:09
    • Thank you very much Dana. Wow!I am inspired by your inspiration, that’s right! I totally agree on the the success of your team is how you see your own success. There is a lot of writing on the idea of a selfless leader. While such an attitude is challenging it is always a good thing to strive for. I appreciate your approach. It’s a great way to bring out the best in people. Thanks again for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

      Posted by rdopping | January 21, 2012, 13:45

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