Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No Ego in Performance Improvement

This recent blog post by David Witt in Blanchard LeaderChat stimulated me to think about the role of ego in performance improvement. There are lots of authors writing about this topic recently - my favorites being Deepak Chopra's "The Soul of Leadership" - which coincidentally talks about the potential of soul-driven vs. ego-driven leadership; and Jim Collins' "Good to Great", which talks about "level 5 leaders having a unique combination of intense will combined with personal humility". 

Performance improvement is ultimately all about leadership, so one is compelled to think about the impact that ego-driven leadership can have on improvement efforts. I think the issue is the same as identified by David - ego can drive ambition and results (a la "the activated internal champion"). However, when it comes to creating sustainability, generating buy-in, and managing behavior - all critical aspects of performance improvement - its ultimately the "team-player" that wins out. 

The leader (or PI Specialist or Project Leader) who can "channel her ego" into building the following performance improvement components will not only achieve success in short-term goals, but also has a greater likelihood of sustaining the gains.
  • Culture Aspects
    • "No blame" 
    • Feedback provided constructively
    • Accountability provided fairly
  • Systems Aspects
    • Multidisciplinary team drives problem-solving
    • Platforms for awareness 
    • Forums for education 
    • Channels of communication 

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