There is a fine line between confidence and ego. Sometimes the line can be blurred. It can feel thin and and wobbly, requiring one to adopt balancing tricks as if walking along the tight rope without the safety net. Here’s the difference: Ego acts as a repellent, while confidence draws people in like a magnet. Leaders need to build and exude confidence while keeping their ego in check at all costs.

As human beings, we are attracted to confidence. The deeply-felt kind that inspires us to follow great leaders to the end of the earth. Yet, if you cross the line and go one shade darker, you often find it becomes ego instead of confidence.

Today, technology has created the age of the ego. It’s easy to create an ideal-looking life on social media. We post the most exciting moments enhanced with filters that make our reality seem better and brighter to the outside world. At the same time, we peek into the lives of others, seeing only the curation of their best parts. We draw comparisons that amplify our ego in a toxic way.

As Theodore Roosevelt eloquently noted, comparison becomes the thief of joy. When you believe that you can do something, are clear about what you are good at, and fully aware of what’s outside your control, you exude confidence. When we tip to over-confidence, our abilities can potentially leave ourselves vulnerable to unforeseen blows. Ego denies the possibility of failure and creates a sense of entitlement to success. Unrealistic expectations are defined and a naïve and unwarranted certainty about outcomes presents itself. Ultimately ego disconnects us from ourselves and the people around us.

Have you ever met a leader who oozes confidence when they walk their talk? Their actions speak louder, they are transparent in their thinking and are here to serve. On the flip side, have you ever been caught up in a leader’s a path of destruction, when the sense of self is inflated, and they disregard others and dismiss new ideas? Sadly,what they know is the end of all knowledge in the universe. They limit possibilities and humility goes out the window.

Deepak Chopra, the spiritual leader, says it well: “The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.”

We know by nature that the ego separates. Look at conflict, the mentality of one person having to win. Leaders start to falter when egos drive their sense of entitlement, and they behave in a certain way towards others. Decisions are justified and they adopt a “better-than-them” mentality.

When leader’s behavior and attitude separates them from others, few people want to be around them. They emanate a “battle” mentality or justify incredibly selfish decisions. An attitude born of competition, comparison and manipulation is potent.

No one is immune to ego. Stepping into a conscious confidence awakens your ability to quieten your mind as needed, acknowledges presence without the social media feeds, and it serves to the whole, not to the selected few. It brings a unified “everybody matters” approach.

How do you know if a leader is confident or powered by ego? Let me share with you 11 ways you can be sure.

Relaxed eye contact

A person powered by ego does not really look at you nor engage at a soulful level. They are busy looking around for the next person to talk to about how incredibly extraordinary they are. A confident person will be present in conversation, make it all about you and will maintain a warm engagement with their eyes focused on you.

If you are not green and growing, you are dying

When we stop learning, business suffers.

Continuous learning as a leader is imperative. Have you ever come across the leader who knows it all? As if now they’ve hit the seniority threshold, there’s no need to learn any more. It’s beneath them. Warning bells should be going off at this point. When we stop learning, business suffers. It’s time for a check-in with the ego to see where we are at, rather than assuming all is good and well.

Confidence is the driver, ego is in the boot

Whether you are creating a new strategic plan, reviewing the last financial plan or plotting your next career move, you should constantly be looking for ways to improve. To stretch your thinking, expand your knowledge and broaden your toolbox. You should be delving in to explore improvements, how to strengthen yourself and your business in the next 12 months and to explore the lessons, feedback and learning is part of the continual growth process. Be cautious that the boot doesn’t open and prevent you from stepping into the inner journey of self-reflection.

Wear a visibility cloak

Don’t assume you have all the answers. You don’t.  Being a strong leader means being able to seek out and use input from a wide spectrum of people. Leaders driven by ego stop listening. They stop seeking feedback. When you start to believe you are invincible, you ultimately fail. Move the ego out of the way and allow yourself to lead with a quiet confidence.

Don’t assume you have all the answers. You don’t.

Being the lone ranger

Initiative is a leadership capability. When starting off a business or transitioning into a new role, taking ownership of leading your success is critical. Business rewards results.  Building a team breeds collaboration and creates success. What can often happen is we get caught up with “having to do it all” as no one can do it as good as you. Ask for help, partner with like-minded people and delegate or outsource to allow you to amplify what you do best. Move the ego to the side.

Vulnerability is strength

Imperfection opens the door for healthy discussions and pro-active change.

Resourceful and functional leaders openly admit mistakes, share experiences and their learning. Imperfection opens the door for healthy discussions and pro-active change.

Create communication architecture

Seeking different viewpoints, engaging with those at the front line and deeply listening, creates a solution-focused platform. Nothing matters more than fostering a culture that values seeking out the voices of others before a decision is made. Joel Gascoigne, the founder of Buffer, pro-actively engages people who will be most affected by any potential change to enable them to be part of solving the challenge. Nothing fosters harmony like a “we”-centric approach. His method of open sharing with full context creates an environment where all contribute to the solution and changes are more fully embraced.

Cleaning the toilet is necessary sometimes

In the corporate world, often the higher the ladder is climbed, the potential for ego to magnify is a real threat. There is an unspoken ego-driven rule that certain tasks are now beneath you, as you have paid your dues. I remember recently speaking at an event and there was a shortage of crew members. Whilst I had some time in between my speaking moment, I assisted by loading and unloading the dishwasher. As small as my contribution may have been, sometimes you need to get back into the trenches and be a decent professional human being.

Maintain an ego barometer

Sometimes, leaders are the problem. They can scare people away, they can lack the skills necessary to build sustainable relationships and as they value themselves more than others, giving them feedback would be like pouring kerosene down their throat and lighting it up. When interviewing others and your barometer is hitting the flashing red sirens, trust your internal compass and do not hire. Being confident is an asset, being egotistical is soul-destroying.

When your belief is delusional, ego has taken over

Nobody wants to work with someone who lacks empathy, is arrogant to the point of being unable to receive any feedback and sacrifices others to benefit themselves. It’s impossible to repair relationships, the quality of work decreases and both people and business are compromised. Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego is the Enemy, shows that while confidence enables one to strive forward and reach new heights, ego can be detrimental. Steven Jobs was a genius. He revolutionized computing and created an iconic brand. However, by a number of accounts, his ego made him so impossible to work with that he was eventually forced out.

People first

Leaders create leaders. They place their staff before anything else. When you care about your people you create a human-centered business. Success is based on collective growth and extraordinary results. Ego-driven leaders put their own needs about everyone else. When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to your team, your leaders, your people?


When you value people, they reciprocate. When you invest and believe in your people, they will rise to the occasion. When you don’t invest and believe in your people, they will also rise to the occasion. You decide who will lead. Confidence or ego.

 

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business.  She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.


Social media propels a comparison culture where we measure our success, self-worth and happiness through likes, emojis and comments. We measure, liken, contrast and mould our entire lives around comparison.

As humans, we all make comparisons. Perhaps more so now than ever. Our world is governed by digital media. Social media constantly shows the highlight reels of people’s lives, masking fears and self-doubt. Comparisons can be a motivation executioner when they keep you from working towards your goals. You scroll through your feed and draw assumptions that others are further ahead.

Social media is neither good or bad. It’s our use of social media and the meanings we derive from it that can either be helpful or harmful. Obsessive Comparison Disorder is real, active and spreading in our social media driven world.

Comparison has reached new global heights. Global thinking perpetuates the need for people to brand themselves in the best light possible. Studies support the extensive use of Facebook has been linked to many unhealthy mental conditions. Ted Roosevelt captured it well when he said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.

Gone are the days waiting to draw comparison at the 20-year reunion. Social media has reduced the time span to give you direct access to comparing yourself with everyone within a single moment.

Every day people are trying to pull off a dazzling, filtered, edited pictures of a life being lived. Sorry to wake you up from the dream. It isn’t real. When we buy into the illusion of the perfection, obsessive comparison disorder has just amplified – “Why can’t my relationship look like the couple snuggling together watching the sunset? Why could I never be wealthy like them? Why can’t l have all the good fortune like Zoe and have her body?”

This adventure creates a distorted view of all the things you don’t have to live this incredible life. It robs you of all the beauty that is in front of you – the people, the experiences and self-love. It blocks you of real conversations, prevents you from living and experiencing life, isolates you to the point that you ghost write your existence to experience a false sense of being alive.

The reality is people continue to showcase the best aspects of their life onto social media. We emphasize the best versions to hide the real version. We get drawn into the illusion and begin to question our individual accomplishments, appearances and behaviours. Even though consciously we recognize how this is illogical we are drawn to the emotional responses like a moth to a flame. Emotion trumps our sense of logic.

Comparison becomes a dark hole. A battle that you will never win. Let’s rewire our thinking by changing our practices to source a way out. Couple this with practice, self-compassion and positive self-talk to recalibrate the internal comparison monster by becoming the architect of your life and adopting 10 strategies to break the habit of comparison with others. Take the first step.

Invest in horse blinkers, they work

Cut your social media time in half by taking regular breaks and removing the opportunity to play victim. When you think about a horse carrying a carriage, horses are always wearing blinders to prevent them from being distracted or freaked out by peripheral noise. The horse focuses on the moment, here and now to the exclusion of anything else. Imagine what would happen if we reinvested all our energy from comparing ourselves to others to staying in our own lane.

It’s time for an inner revolution

As a leader, be clear about your values, beliefs and strengths. Know who you are and what you stand for. When you realize the power of focusing on your inside team, you build empowering beliefs and your positive impact on others and in business multiples. Always leverage your strengths and amplify your unique DNA.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all

Social media has become the toxic mirror. Selfies have taken over due to the array of applications to alter bodies in pictures, a bit of a nip and tuck to become prettier, thinner and hotter, apply filters to refine our features or cover up some of perceived flaws and imperfections. We touch up, tone up, cover up and all with a swipe of a finger. All this provides is an illusion of control. It’s time to let it go.

Comparing apples with oranges

How do you find someone with the exact same goals and priorities as you to make a meaningful comparison? You can’t. Where you are in life today is because of your choices, decisions and action that you have taken. You can’t compare with someone 20 years ahead or before you.

Let’s flip the switch

What if there was nothing wrong with comparison? We know in business competitor analysis is conducted strategically to determine strengths, areas of development within the market and uncover strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage. It creates a platform to adjust actions. At times, leaders in business make decisions not to create change but to stay the same. Maintaining their superior self-image becomes the priority.

Even more than that, what if comparison was used by a leader to stay passive because they were so invested in judgement of others to avoid living their own life. Sometimes it’s easier to externalize then perhaps take responsibility for ourselves.

AA Philosophy – admit that you cannot control your addiction

Comparisons feeds self-image. When we are insecure, our self-esteem is compromised and our self-work depleted. We engage in comparison as it becomes a habit. When you recognize your comparison is an addiction, then you embrace taking the first step on embarking on a sense of freedom, cutting the cords of not being good enough and ceasing from using comparison as a substitute.

What would we do with our time if we stopped comparing?

How much time and effort do we invest in the ‘why’? Why am I not like them, why couldn’t I do the same, why am I not successful? What if we focused our energy on our growth, development and purpose? Focus on following our own path and conspiring to do what’s right for you.

Life is not a competition

When we share other’s successes, our vibration rises. I’m not talking about “woo-woo”, I’m referring to when you close the gap from where you are to where you want to be. When we appreciate things no matter how big or small. Living with gratitude allows you to see the true essence of life and even more than that, the true essence of you and comparison is not an option. When you find new ways to collaborate with others, we see ourselves as equal. We let go of the need to compare and our energy flows to something bigger than ourselves.

Plugging in and out

Before we condemn social media outright, there is research to suggest benefits to being plugged in such as cultivating a positive sense of self through our profiles and gaining social support through our networks.

We also know that peace happens when you unplug. The constant pressure and expectation to remain digitally plugged in is taking its toll. We live a life constantly wired to social media to the detriment of our quality of life, health and wellbeing. We hear stories of addiction, cyberbullying and comprised emotional wellbeing.

It is time to consider usage in moderation and proceed with caution. Perhaps a digital detox occasionally, to stay grounded is a fabulous self-investment. Leaders, stop investing in comparing yourself to others. Stop focusing on how you measure up to others and invest all your energy on being the best version of you.

 

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business.  She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.