Put that ego aside

Feb 14, 2021

This is essential if you want to build a good firm of competent people who can keep the business going whether you’re there or not.

One of the hardest things for really talented and successful design professionals to do – and especially critical to those who are owners of A/E firms – is to be able to put their egos aside for the benefit of their firms and themselves.

It is essential if you want to build a good firm of competent people who can keep the business going whether you are there or not.

So what would some examples of this (getting your ego out of the driver’s seat) be? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Not being featured first in promotional efforts. Stop feeling the need to be the star. That means you won’t be the first person featured in the company newsletter. Maybe that means you aren’t the first person interviewed for the new company podcast program, either. You get the idea. Put the spotlight on someone else in your firm.
  2. Allowing someone else to take the lead in a meeting. Again – the tendency of leaders is to want to constantly remind everyone that they ARE the leader. One way they do that is by running whatever meetings they are involved in. Try giving someone else that chance. You may be surprised how well they do. And you are taking yourself out of the driver’s seat.
  3. Allowing someone else to take the lead on a project. Once again, the tendency of many principals is to hang on to their client relationships and keep trying to lead projects when it becomes obvious that they are overloaded and not the best person for the job. So pass the baton on some or all of your projects. See what someone else can do by giving them a chance to actually run a job. And do it more than once.
  4. Beginning actual leadership and ownership transition. So many principals talk a good game here but then don’t actually do it. This process takes lots of time. Much longer than most realize. That’s why you should probably start right now instead of letting your ego (and fear of the unknown) keep you as the primary owner and main leader.
  5. Not taking the best or the most for yourself. I’m talking about those principals who always have the best admin assistant, the best office, the best parking place, the best desk chair, the best company car, the largest computer monitor – and so-on.
  6. Not insisting the company keep your name in it. This is often the ultimate test of whether or not a primary principal of the firm can push their ego aside. Maybe it IS time to go to “alphabet soup” or name your firm after a founding partner who is no longer alive. Not to say this always makes sense because you don’t want to lose any brand equity, but it often does. Sometimes it’s necessary to make a full transition.

I’m sure that given more room I could come up with more specifics. But hopefully I’m striking a chord with some of you and you will give thought to some of these things and perhaps change your ways!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

Click here to read this week's issue of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.