Creative Leadership

The Destructive Power of Ego

I live and work in Hollywood, so believe me when I say the ego can be a very destructive thing. I’ve met people who lie for a living, just to support their ego. Even in situations where it wouldn’t matter, they still lie because they’re so used to it. And that’s exactly the horrifying power of ego: to save face, we will often do anything. Go back to the Cain and Abel story in the Old Testament to see the power of unchecked ego at work. That story ended in murder.  But in most workplaces today, rampant egos obviously don’t lead to murder. But they do lead to regrettable actions. In too many cases, we have too much invested in justifying our actions, rather than being open to something new.

I’ve worked at nonprofits where people knew their ideas were wrong, but they’d invested so much into defending their positions, ego wouldn’t allow them to back down.

What about your office? Is there anyone who has so much invested in a project, proposal, or idea, that even if proved wrong, they refuse to back down? How far will they go? I’ve seen some who are willing to see the organization go bankrupt before they admit they were wrong.

Leaders, keep an eye out for this. You may think everyone on your team is out for the good of the organization, but my experience says otherwise.

Be careful of the power of our ego. It can be a remarkably destructive thing.

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  1. Ronald Reagan had a sign on his desk in the oval office:

    It’s Amazing What You Can Accomplish When You Don’t Care Who Gets the Credit

  2. Sometimes the lies are used to justify the perks. For instance, you have the manager that is always traveling, staying in nice hotels, nice meals, expense account, wining and dining… He has to justify those expenses (perks) by claiming justifiable business purposes. Often, no business profit comes from those trips. But, the manager wants to keep his perks and boost his ego by showing how important he is by his “business travels”. (Oh yeah, he likes the “frequent flier miles” when he takes his family on vacation.)

  3. Enormous egos are capable of telling so many lies, that eventually they believe their own lies; they don’t recognize the truth from a lie any more. What’s more, they think you’re foolish enough to believe what they’re saying is actually the truth! I find these people truly amusing…they underestimate people’s intelligence while practicing their own folly. Call them on it and they lie even more…. after all, egos must be protected at all costs because they are so fragile.

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