From Ego to Eco-Intelligence: A new type of Leadership


From Ego to Eco

Surveys consistently report that work is more often dread and drudgery rather than passion and purpose. Research shows that only 13 per cent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, productivity is at an all-time low and stress levels among employees are rising!

Added on 17 August 2015 by Sharon Olivier

The Engagement Dilemma

Leaders who have to deal with this often find themselves similarly demotivated – and as a result, facing a double challenge of self-management as well as keeping their teams motivated and engaged.
In order for leaders to impact positively on this engagement dilemma, a new kind of leadership is called for…one that will reverse these trends by re-engaging and re-energising the workforce.

Eco Intelligence and Ego Intelligence

There is growing interest in the area of what we call eco-intelligence – a fast emerging leadership intelligence. Eco intelligence is most appropriate in a complex space, where numerous options on the what and how of strategy and operations exist, and where consensus and agreement through the leader’s influence and power are not the only means of creating focus. 
Ego intelligent leaders are characterised by a need to have all the answers, directing things from the outside through command and control, and using their own strength and energy. By contrast, eco-intelligent leaders see themselves as catalysts within an inter-dependent eco-system.  
Eco-intelligent leaders apply a different skillset to facilitate the creation of coherence and purpose in the workplace, engaging their people’s talents and enhancing pride for the business results they want to achieve. They do this by creating a compelling context that encourages individuals to bring their ‘whole self’ to work. They believe that when people feel trusted to be themselves and empowered to deliver the work in ways that they know best; they tend to give their best. Rather than controlling from the outside, eco-intelligent managers ensure that individuals or teams set up and self-manage their own control processes. They are therefore able to release control in order to instil high levels of trust and self-management. 
The key to successful eco-intelligent leadership lies in an ability to ‘tame’ the ego and to realise that the leadership space in an organisation should not be dominated by a few, but requires involvement across the whole organisation. Eco-intelligent leaders present leadership as a space to be cultivated for individuals to show their own potential. Eco-intelligent leaders therefore tend to work with the energy of their teams, rather than relying on their own energy to ‘pull’ or ‘push’ their teams along.
The emerging skills and practices of Eco Intelligent leaders could be categorised under three Meta skill areas:
  • Being self-aware and authentic, which involves an ability to see oneself through the eyes of others, and becoming feedback ‘fit’ whilst staying true to oneself 
  • Managing polarities, or taking on board incompatible or diverse views in the workplace to channel them productively 
  • Creating emotional ownership for learning and performance, which involves moving teams towards higher levels of self-management

Sharon Olivier will be sharing more on these topics at our Leadership showcase event for HR, L&D and OD practitioners, CEOs and Directors at Ashridge on Thursday 3rd September. For more details or to register please visit our event page.