How Your Ego Can Get in the Way of Your Success

Many moons ago when I was a newly-minted project manager, I had a peer approach me after a meeting I had led. This peer asked me if I was open to feedback.

To be honest, I use the term “peer” rather loosely. He was about 20 years my senior, had done a stint in the Marines, and had worked at the company 15 years longer than me. I had not known him very long, but I trusted him. He genuinely seemed to be a person who cared about his teammates.

He said, “I’ve noticed some things that could make you more effective. But I don’t want to presume that you want my feedback.”

I told him I would appreciate it. And I’m eternally grateful for Tom’s feedback.

That day, he shared that people flounder at the start of my meetings because the objective of the conversation and desired output is not clear.

It was great feedback! How simple, yet beneficial, is that to know and fix?

Over the years that we worked together as peers and later as cross-functional partners, I learned so much from having a relationship where I could take feedback and give it. Likewise, as I thought through the best way to handle a sticky situation, I knew I could get trustworthy counsel and that the conversation wouldn’t be shared widely.

I had another coworker say to me once, “Tom asked if I would be open to his feedback. And, I said no thank you, I know my job and I know what I’m doing. Who does he think he is? He is not the boss.”

Granted, she was very good at her job, but as she spoke, I thought to myself, “You could definitely improve on relationship building and some of the softer skills in your role. It would probably help you with building influence.”

But, I certainly wasn’t going to tell her after what she had just shared with me. Clearly she was not open to feedback unless it came from senior leadership. Maybe then she would begrudgingly consider it.

Believe it or not, other people know that you are not perfect. None of us are perfect.  

Do other people feel that they can give you feedback? And if they give it, will you be receptive to it?

Is it ego that keeps us from wanting to hear from others? Is it fear or insecurity? Maybe it’s a bit of everything. They are all natural reactions. When peers share feedback with us, let’s lean in and minimize our natural inclination to posture up, and instead, power down and listen.


Holloway Consulting Group is an Atlanta-based firm helping corporate technology teams all over the world set goals, create plans, and solve complex problems. We aim to service organizations through our training, coaching, and project management programs. Visit our website to schedule a call with our team today!

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