Shrinking the Ego and Becoming Receptive to Others

George Gatsis

CTO at 95 Percent Group LLC



Mentoring and developing talent has really been the focal point of my career. Somebody in a position like I’ve had, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. Making the most of things has a lot to do with emotional intelligence.

Plenty of things have hurt me early in my career. I remember feeling like I was very full of myself. Like a lot of young people, I thought that I knew everything. My collaborative skills needed to be worked on. I would say things in meetings that I would never say now. Through the support of mentors of my own, I was able to mold myself into a real professional. They corrected what I was stumbling over.

If you’re already a leader and think that you have all of the answers, you’re likely to reject people, openness, and criticism. Improving in this area will likely show you all of the people around you who have way better ideas than you do. Having too much self-worth as a manager may offer others a presentation of yourself and your values that is not aligned with who you would like to be in your position. Developing your own emotional intelligence will prevent you from imposing destructive behavior onto others.

Actions taken

What I started doing: when I got an idea, whether in the office or while cooking or doing housework at home, I would make a note of what I was thinking about and would bring these ideas to other people before they were really formed. Others would show me where the ideas could be improved and either encourage the interest or present a better, alternative route.

The most valuable types of people who I have found are the ones who I would call “go-to” people. If you need to have something done, they’re the types who deliver when they say that they will deliver. It’s the same with any business. If there are certain people involved who consistently take accountability and who produce, those are the types of people that leaders should pay attention to. I always pursue this type of individual.

You should also be the first to offer a helping hand to a person just starting to develop in their career. In doing this, you are able to develop your team. I think that the word “synergy” is overused, but that’s the best word that describes the result. You know when you have it, and you know when you do not have it. The solution is never simple. It really is a long-term commitment. Don’t worry about how things look day-to-day. In a year, you’ll look around the room and see how things have really changed and improved over time.

Lessons learned

  • What you really need to do is to develop an openness toward other people. It’s really remarkable how receptive people will be to a little bit of empathy. Getting others involved really has a lot to do with workplace culture. As a leader, you always have to be willing to be receptive to feedback and to take responsibility for when things go wrong.
  • People are what make us great. So often, leaders forget about their people, especially as the organization grows. If you focus on the people and the quality of what you’re all producing together, they will respond in kind and make your organization great.
  • The ability to have your mind changed is an extraordinarily important skill for any leader. To develop a culture of engagement, you must actively make yourself more open to feedback and criticism.
  • I always encourage my reports to bring their feedback about the work and about the company to me personally. This prevents them from venting on their peers, or worse, our clients and stakeholders.

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George Gatsis

CTO at 95 Percent Group LLC

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentMentorship ProgramsFeedback Techniques

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