Leadership Self awareness

Leave your wounded ego at the door. 6 simple leadership lessons.

Leadership is a fragile combination of having a clear vision for a better future and demonstrating vulnerability that your way may not be the only way.

I typically read two to three books at a time. One book lies on my bedside table and is for relaxation before I go to sleep. One business book is lying around in the house for educational reading during the day, and then one audiobook for the car.

The bedside book is written by Rutger Bregman and titled Humankind: a Hopeful History. The audiobook is titled Principles by Ray Dalio. The business book lying around Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt.

I read books to keep learning and growing. I read books because they entertain me and provide me with different perspectives.

I like to be provoked in my thinking, so I become a more rounded person who realizes his truth is the truth of just one person.

There simply is always another perspective, and who am I to claim that my view is correct.

How do I know I’m right?

Or, as Ray Dalio states it, “How do I know I’m right?”

If I want to know I’m right, I need to check and rely on the facts.

And I also need to trust that the other person, who I may disagree with, is doing the same. I need to rely on the fact that intentions are sincere on both sides of the spectrum.

Most people mean well

This reliance is where the book Humankind comes in. Bregman makes the case in his book that deep down, almost every person in this world means well.

He fact checks story after story about wars, disputes, and arguments, breaking it down to the level where we can see human beings with good intentions doing what they’re doing because of context.

It’s the exact opposite of all the doom and gloom stories we so often want to believe.

Because we’re human beings, after all, and we tend to gravitate more towards gossip, scandal, negativity, disaster, etc. Positive news doesn’t sell well.

A country divided

As I’m writing this story during the week of the US presidential elections, it’s hard to stay optimistic, calm, and not get sucked into the lies, spins, and deliberate attempts to frustrate a democratic process.

A process that’s already hard because of covid.

Following these elections close, it’s hard to believe that most politicians do what they do with the best intentions in mind.

Democracy is a relatively young experiment

Democracy is based on the intention that every vote counts, and in the end, the person with the most votes gets to govern.

The only way to find out who’s right in this process is to count all votes and do so with integrity and legal checks where necessary.

Overcome our, often wounded, ego’s

But that also means we have to overcome our own, sometimes wounded, ego’s, accepting the fact that we may lose. There can only be one president.

It means we have to confront our fears, be willing to question our intentions, and suspend our beliefs.

And ask ourselves the key question when we believe we’re right: how do I know I’m right?

I’m obviously talking about Donald Trump here, and we know this is not going to happen. He has a wounded ego that he won’t be able to overcome, unfortunately for him.


…the world would have looked different if only he would have taken a more vulnerable approach to his leadership much earlier on.

If only he would have admitted he didn’t have all the answers and asked for help.

And, if only he would have been willing to question his own intentions and listen to others.

Then he may have won this election by a landslide.

And those are the lessons for all leaders
  • Don’t be a know it all leader
  • Understand the intentions of others first
  • Always check your own intentions
  • Ask yourself how you know you’re right
  • Ask for help
  • Believe in the good of people

Simple to understand. Not that simple to lead with.


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2 replies on “Leave your wounded ego at the door. 6 simple leadership lessons.”

Hello Erikjan,
Thanks for sharing your insights – as always good food for thought.
And you’re absolutely right about vulnerability – I personally believe that leaders who dare show the vulnerability faster then others will create faster a connection and build a trust relationship.
And in these days where co-workers are remote and distant from their people leaders, they need the trust and compassion of their leaders more then ever.
Warm greets from the Belgian side.

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