How to reduce a CEO’s ego

‘Coach Kriengsak, I need you to help me,” says Don. “Yesterday I had a chat with my secretary. She has a good relationship with most of my direct reports. She told me a few of them said I’ve been showing signs of a huge ego. I don’t want to be perceived like that.”

“Khun Don, what do you want to achieve from our discussion today?” I ask him.

“I want to learn to manage my ego properly. I want to have it at a healthy level, not too high or too low.”

“Could you give me an example of the behaviours of a leader who possesses a healthy ego?”

“The ideal leader who has a healthy ego should have excellent listening skills.”

“Khun Don, please be more specific. Imagine that you’re a movie director and you have to show an actor how to portray an excellent listener. How would you tell the actor to perform?”

“A great listener speaks much less than the other party. He listens attentively. He doesn’t intervene or interrupt the other person. He waits patiently until the speaker finishes his statement. He will be patient, calm and composed.”

“Okay, if the ideal leader’s listening skills rate a 10 on a scale of one to 10, how would you rate yourself?”

“Only 4, I think.”

“Where do you want to be and when?”

“I plan to be at 7 within three months.”

“What do you need to do to achieve that goal?”

“First, I must change my thinking. Then, I have to change my behaviour.”

“Could you tell me more about changing your thinking?”

“I want to reduce my huge ego.”

“What do you need to do in order to have a healthy ego?”

“I think I will have to be less self-centred. I have to be more considerate by putting myself in other people’s shoes. Basically, I have to be compassionate.”

“How can you be more compassionate?”

“I don’t know.”

“Khun Don, suppose you did know?”

“I really don’t. Gosh! I’m stuck.”

“Khun Don, who do you think of when you hear the word ‘compassionate’?”

“The Dalai Lama.”

“What do you think is his quality in this respect?”

“I think he shows forgiveness considering his life’s experience. He has a kind heart. You can see from his smile. He’s humble.”

“Okay, Khun Don. How would you apply what you just said about the Dalai Lama to yourself?”

“Coach, I think I can be more compassionate by looking at things from my people’s perspective. What are their good intentions?

“I have to forgive what they have said and done in the past. I have to look at their potential and how I can unleash that potential to benefit the organisation.

“What I think is important is that I have to accept the fact that their poor performance in the past was also my responsibility. As you said on your Facebook fanpage: ‘The poor performance of any performer is a reflection of the manager’s effectiveness.’ ”

“That’s interesting.”

“Coach, I think I have some ideas about how to level down my ego.”

“How can you ensure that your healthier ego will be sustainable?”

“I have to remind myself every day.”

“How exactly?”

“I do meditation three days a week in the morning. I think that after meditation, I will have to do some self-affirmation about what I just told you.”

“Okay, now let’s talk about behaviour. How will you behave so people will know that you have a healthy ego?”

“I will be more patient. I will speak only 20% of my time and allocate 80% to listening.”

“How will you ensure that things happen as you plan them?”

“Every morning, I will spend a few minutes doing some self-talk. I make a ‘to do’ list every morning. Before I start doing that I will put my daily goal on top of the list: ‘Today whenever I interact with my direct reports one on one, I will practise listening 80% of the time.’ In the evening, I will evaluate myself.”

“That’s quite a good plan. What could go wrong?”

“I might not be able to fulfill my plan.”

“What would the solution be?”

I think I need someone to police me.”


“Coach, I want you to call me every day in the first week.”

“You’re trying to delegate your responsibility to me. I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”


“What about another possibility?”

“I can SMS my daily progress report to you for the first week.”

“Sounds great to me, Khun Don. Let’s see how it goes in our next session.”

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at

About the author

Writer: Kriengsak Niratpattanasai
Position: Writer