Ego in the Workplace – let’s face it – every workplace has them. What is of concern however, is the ‘exaggerated self important ego’ that gets combined with a position of power – which can ultimately lead to an abuse of that power. This particular ‘Ego in the Workplace’ feels the need to ‘control’ and looks for particular people to become targets of that behaviour.
What is ‘Ego’?
Ego is reflected awareness or consciousness of your own identity. If you grew up totally alone, with no one around you, you would never develop an ego. An ego is a need, a social need and an ego is created and developed by those around you.
Many people use the term ‘ego’ to refer to the inflated feeling of pride in your superiority – but everyone has an ego. Ego can be pride and self esteem, it can also be conceitedness or exaggerated self worth.
Whenever you suffer and feel miserable, watch and analyse what has occurred and somewhere the ego is the cause of it. A person can have too much ego when they feel inadequate or angry being challenged or when they have had an idea rejected by a client or colleague. Maybe they just are not getting their own way. Of course, it is quite normal to feel disappointed when these situations occur, however if you are starting to feel angry and irritated all the time, you could have an over inflated ego.
The ego is often looking for trouble because if no one is paying attention to your ego, it feels hungry – it needs attention and feeds off attention.
An ego can be compared to a piece of software – allowing you to interact with the world. An ego determines how you make decisions, how you maintain self esteem, how you take care of yourself and stand by your values.
Types of over-inflated egos in the workplace (dominant marbles):
The problem starts to occur with the over-inflated ego that is hungry for more and more attention. This over inflated ego can result in the person speaking louder and louder, not listening to others and expecting others to share their opinion. You cannot control what others think but these people won’t stop trying.
These are the people that have a story to tell, and insist on ensuring that every person hears their story – they seek people out to make sure everyone knows their story – these people are obsessed with their own self importance.
Often you see people taking credit for work that was accomplished by others or by a team. Very rarely did work get done by one person, however this ‘Ego in the Workplace’ believes they are the top dog, worthy of all the praise and they seek this out. But at what cost? The ‘credit takers’ will bully others in the workplace to accomplish tasks so that they can take the credit.
Instead of believing that others may respect them, these people are always on the defensive and very unwilling to see other people’s perspectives. No matter how small or trivial some things are, it’s often the little things that annoy and irritate these people and they are not good at holding an opinion or viewpoint to themselves – they have to let others know that they don’t agree, or that they are annoyed.
These people believe they can withhold information or resources from a targeted person, just to let them know who has the authority. They select one or more targets and will exclude them from meetings, restrict access to information and resources. This level of power and control feeds their ego.
Two – faced
These exaggerated egos in the workplace use the element of surprise. They are unpredictable and can target individuals, so that they will appear charming in front others, and monsters when they get the target alone. Or they can be nice one minute and fiendish the next.
All of these ‘egos in the workplace’ find it near impossible to admit when they are wrong, because their self-inflated ego doesn’t allow for them to even consider that they could be wrong.
Imagine combining any of these ‘egos in the workplace’, with a position of authority. You have the abusive ego, and now that ego has power and control because of a position of authority. What do you think happens to that ego? The ego is hungry for control and power and starts to use it in a systematic, destructive way, targeting certain individuals to get the best response – which is an even more self-inflated ego.
Can ego therefore ever be good? Of course it can because it is our conscious mind – however we need just enough ego to give us confidence to be noticed and to love ourselves. We need enough ego to be able to stand up for what we believe is right.
Could you or others around you be at risk of having an over-inflated ego? Check out some of these indicators to see if you or colleagues / managers are potentially those ‘over-inflated egos in the workplace’.
- They have to have their own way
- They believe they are always right
- They believe they are superior or above other people
- They always justify or defend everything
- They are over confident
- They are loud and want people to pay attention to them
- They feel the need to put others down to make themselves look good
- They constantly criticize others
- They withhold resources or knowledge from others
- They are like a Jekyll and Hyde – nice one minute, nasty the next or nice in front of others, but a two-headed snake when they get you on your own
- They take the credit for what others do
If you answered yes to any of the above – think about who that person is. Are they in a position of authority and are they affecting others around them? If you have a such an ‘ego in the workplace’ there is a likelihood that this person is costing the organisation a large amount of money if left unchecked. Some of the hidden costs of having over-inflated egos in the workplace, combined with a position of power can be:-
Loss of productivity
Increased staff turnover
Staff spending more time helping others, getting unsafely involved, gossiping
Formal complaints – investigation, time, legal costs
Loss of morale
Loss of the ‘valued marbles’ or the people that you don’t want to lose in your organisation
So it’s time to take a health check on yourself and your organisation to see if you pass with a healthy tick, or a slight illness that needs treatment, or an epidemic that could cost you thousands.
We need egos in the workplace – healthy egos in the workplace. People who are confident, able to stand up for their values, and the organisation’s values. We don’t need over-inflated egos in the workplace that will slowly and systematically cause a campaign of interpersonal destruction.
Let’s value the marbles (people) that are important to us both at work and outside of work. Let’s stop losing our valued marbles.