You need confidence to run a company--that's obvious. But without consciously evaluating your actions, conviction can quickly morph into arrogance. And this inflated ego will only shrink your company's success.
False confidence can affect your decision-making and slowly destroy your reputation. Does your ego need a reality check? Ask yourself these seven questions to find out.
1. Do you ask for transparent feedback?
As a leader, managing people and providing feedback is second nature. But if you only give constructive criticism--and don't ask for any in return--you're probably either dangerously confident or scared of what you might hear. Leaders should exude confidence; it's part of the job. But everyone has weaknesses they need to address.
2. Do you know people on a personal level?
Taking the time to get to know people is a respectable trait, but many leaders only establish surface-level, business-first relationships. Adam Grant wrote a great article about people who claimed to be his friend when, in fact, his interactions with them only revolved around business.
I've fallen into this trap, but I've made a deliberate effort to develop deeper connections. Aim for quality instead of quantity here. A small number of meaningful relationships is more valuable than a vast network of shallow ones. Make an honest attempt to connect and understand people, and that will instantly add a personal layer to the relationship and make you more memorable.
3. Do you know yourself?
Not fully understanding who you are and what you stand for can be a detriment to your confidence and fuel a shallow ego as well. When testing Spark Cards, a recent project on Kickstarter, I began to uncover ideas and opinions I never knew I had. These cards also spur real discussions on worldly topics that instantly enrich conversations and test your beliefs.
4. Do you drink your own Kool-Aid?
Many companies tout their services but implement them poorly. I've seen website development companies with terrible websites. If you aren't a master at your own service, why should others trust it?
Our team members have used our service from day one. We not only actively study and measure how it meets our clients' goals, but also our own objectives. When pitching someone who has reached out for a meeting after reading an article I wrote, the conversation flows much more smoothly. It instantly breaks down skepticism and starts the talk on a solid foundation of trust.
5. Do you have a system of checks and balances in place?
This is something I've adopted when writing. As I put together how-tos, best practices, and trends our audience should pay attention to, I have to stop myself and assess whether I follow the advice myself. When writing an article about building a strong company, I realized I only did half of the things I recommended. That was a wake-up call.
Now, I use every article I write as a checklist. If I don't practice what I preach, I implement processes that encourage me to do these things regularly.
6. Are you honest with where your competitors are compared to you?
Consider what leaders in similar industries are doing to position themselves and reach their target audience and what you can do to differentiate your company. When prospects notice their competitors consistently producing and publishing content and fret about losing market share, it's an easy sell. Simply assuming you're ahead of the curve doesn't mean you actually are, and adopting this mentality will quickly put you behind.
7. Do you let your accomplishments speak for themselves?
A humble person with an impressive track record is more appealing than someone who divulges his credentials immediately. I recently had one of these interactions when I spoke to fellow Inc. and Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers. Although he produces awesome content regularly, he kept his cool and replied with a simple "thank you" and "I appreciate that" when I complimented his work. This refreshing encounter shed light on the type of person Jayson is.
There's a fine line between a healthy dose of confidence and an unchecked ego. But addressing where you lie on the spectrum will put the quality of your leadership in perspective and help you improve your areas of weakness. That's something everyone can admire.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that provides a turnkey thought leadership solution for companies.