Ego and How the Mighty Fall

In the June issue of Ignite, Ken Blanchard identified ego as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to people being able to collaborate effectively.  Now that ego is on my radar screen, I’m beginning to see it appear all around me. 

Most recently I saw the behind-the-scenes impact of ego described in Jim Collins new book, How the Mighty Fall.

In a section on The Dynamics of Leadership-Team Behavior, Collins explains some of the subtle changes that take place in the way teams operate once ego—expressed as “hubris” sets in.  The result is behavior that is defensive, self-promoting, comparative, and resistant to new ideas. See if you recognize any of these behaviors starting to creep into your team dynamics:

According to Collins, in teams on the way down: 

  • People shield those in power from unpleasant facts, fearful of penalties and criticism for shining light on the rough realities
  • People assert strong opinions without providing data, evidence, or a solid argument
  • The team leader has a very low questions-to-statements ratio, avoiding critical input and/or allowing sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions
  • Team members acquiesce to a decision but don’t unify to make the decision successful—or worse, undermine it after the fact
  • Team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves, yet do not enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers
  • Team members argue to look smart or to further their own interests rather than argue to find the best answers to support the overall cause
  • The team conducts “autopsies with blame,” seeking culprits rather than wisdom
  • Team members often fail to deliver exceptional results and blame other people or outside factors for setbacks, mistakes, and failures

Are you looking for a way out of this vicious cycle?  Start by looking at where your focus is as an organization.  Is it on serving yourself, or on serving others?  Ego plays a big part in this.  Looking for some ideas?  Be sure to check out Ken Blanchard’s interview in Ignite or better yet, join us for Ken’s webinar tomorrow on The Power of Collaboration.  You’ll learn some ways to get your organization back on track.

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