The inflated ego that comes with success – the bigger salary, the nicer office, the easy laughs – often makes us feel as if we’ve found the eternal answer to being a leader. But the reality is, we haven’t. An inflated ego makes us susceptible to manipulation; it narrows our field of vision; and it corrupts our behavior, often causing us to act against our values. Breaking free of an overly-protective or inflated ego and avoiding the leadership bubble is an important and challenging job that requires selflessness, reflection, and courage.
On his first day as CEO of the Carlsberg Group, a global brewery and beverage company, Cees ‘t Hart was given a key card by his assistant. The card locked out all the other floors for the elevator so that he could go directly to his corner office on the 20th floor. And with its picture windows, his office offered a stunning view of Copenhagen. These were the perks of his new position, ones that spoke to his power and importance within the company.
Cees spent the next two months acclimating to his new responsibilities. But during those two months, he noticed that he saw very few people throughout the day. Since the elevator didn’t stop at other floors and only a select group of executives worked on the 20th floor, he rarely interacted with other Carlsberg employees. Cees decided to switch from his corner office on the 20th floor to an empty desk in an open-floor plan on a lower floor.