Kemmons Wilson's smiling face appears on the cover of the June 12, 1972, issue of Time magazine. When his aide handed him an advance copy, Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn, didn't critique his appearance or brag about his fame. Instead, he said, "You can't buy advertising like this."
For a man worth $200 million, Wilson had almost no ego. He titled his 1996 autobiography, Half Luck and Half Brains.
He built a hotel empire by focusing on the bottom line, not his stature. He sought publicity to sell hotel rooms, not to glorify himself. Follow his lead by keeping your ego in check. Here's how:
Put yourself second. When informed of news about your organization, don't respond by analyzing how it affects you. Focus on what the news means to employees and customers.
Ask and ask again. Shine the spotlight on your staff. Query them about their jobs and what motivates them. Then follow up. Keep digging to learn. Don't inject yourself into the conversation by sharing long stories about what motivates you.
Deflect credit. Let your staff bask in your accomplishments, whether you're talking with the CEO or your workers. Take less credit and you build more loyalty.