In their book, The High Engagement Work Culture, David Bowles and Cary Cooper compare ego to a psychological virus. Below is an excerpt.
- Ego requires a human host, which it “infects.”
- Ego in excess can be deadly to its human host.
- Even when not deadly, it can and does degrade human life and drain it of many of its joys.
- It is able to hide so that its host has no idea that he/she is “infected.”
- When discovered, ego can mutate so that it is once again hidden.
- Ego makes its host defend it and ensure its continued existence, even when that is against the host’s best interest.
- Ego has a deep “bag of tricks” to stay invisible, and to maintain itself.
- Like with a virus, cases can be very mile and almost symptom-free or severe and life-threatening.
They maintain that ego drives worker disengagement. Here’s their description of an ego driven boss from hell.
- She takes credit for projects that you started and carried out.
- He never hires people smarter than himself.
- He “licks up” and “kicks down” in the organization structure.
- She cannot take criticism.
- He is a perfectionist and one can never “do it well enough” for him.
- She never allows anyone else to make any significant decisions in her area.
Sound familiar Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: I know where this is going… “Leggo my ego.”
Wanda B. Goode: I think most of us can relate to the above. We certainly don’t like bosses that behave that way. We’ve witnessed the damage they inflict. We need to be careful that we don’t pull the same stunts ourselves.
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