Leadership at the top is a tough gig. To meet shareholders’ or other important stakeholders’ expectations,leaders are expected to take bold action and still protect the organization’s vital interests.

Though forceful, enterprising leaders are admired, they are also often criticized for being self-focused, even narcissistic. Margaret Heffernan defines narcissism in her blog on CBS Moneywatch:

“1. A sense of entitlement: I’m special and should get special attention.

2. Attention: I like, even need, to be the center of attention.

3. Superiority: I am better or smarter than others.

4. Self-absorption: I spend a lot of time contemplating my extraordinary qualities.”

Even if you aren’t a classic narcissist, your ego may be a problem. Leaders need self-confidence, to be sure. However, an over-sized ego can keep you from learning and changing – requirements for addressing the shortcomings we all possess.

John Baldoni posted Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check on Harvard Business Review’s Blog Network. His suggestions for reigning in your ego:

Accept praise, but never believe it totally.  Baldoni quotes an interview David Caldwell did on The Larry King Show. Quoting his surgeon father, he said: “It’s okay if other people think you’re God, but you’re in trouble if you start believing it.”

Listen to your best friend. That would be the person who tells the truth, not the one who is your blindest fan.

Reflect on your shortcomings. Be honest with yourself about your behavior, decisions and relationships, understanding that even you reap what you sow.

We’d add another: Use success as a way of showcasing others, reinforcing the fact that these achievements are due at least in part to the amazing people around you.

Healthy self-esteem means you have a strong ego, not one whose maintenance takes precedence over the organization and its people’s needs.

Need to keep your ego in line? Contact Humanergy.

Photo from iStockphoto.