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Nothing can be more debilitating in an organization than a leader with an ego. Leaders with out-of-control egos are responsible for losses in productivity, inefficiencies and the inability to make meaningful decisions.
While in today’s culture the concepts of self-worth and self-focus are greatly promoted, egotism appears to be a growing trend that gets rewarded as well. This quickly leads to outsized egos, which are behind the struggle for organizations in keeping good and qualified people, making adequate decisions, earning the trust of the people they serve, as well as enjoying long-term prosperity. Cees ‘t Hart, CEO of the Carlsberg Group, a global brewery and beverage company, explained, “If I don’t have a finger on the pulse of the organization, I can’t lead effectively.” Similarly, Bill Treasurer and John Havlik, in their book The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance, explain the dangers of bad leadership and how to protect against it. Their assessment is that the consequences of bad leadership are far-reaching and can be devastating. Organizations should take swift and immediate action to root out toxic leaders.
Why does this matter? The year 2020 has brought many challenges for organizations of any size and type, to include government on all levels and even more so the people they serve. With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there have been many failures in the U.S. and abroad, which could have been averted through leadership that employs humility, instead of ego. Facts instead of opinion. Compromise instead of stubbornness. However, high pressure issues tend to create tunnel vision for the ones in charge to lead, which in turn limits situational awareness and flexibility in action. In order to avoid this, a good leader has to take a step back, without ego, assess the situation for all that it is and then implement solutions that are continuously assessed for effectiveness. This requires an ongoing effort until a desired outcome that is acceptable to everyone is achieved. However, when assessing the current state of Covid-19 responses in the U.S., these concepts do not seem to be employed on the local, state or federal level. Rather, many leaders appear to rely on emotionally driven knee-jerk reactions with the eyes on their next election instead of the issues at hand.