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The Manager’s Ego


No one can fully develop without recognition from others. That’s why it has been said that to live in plenitude we need explicit or implicit acceptance by others. Ultimately no one can live without self-affirmation and/or separately from others. Martin Buber made this clear in his unforgettable “I and Thou”.

This indispensible need for positive dialogue with others must be channelled. Poor management of the unavoidable self-esteem usually leads to a serious pathology, if not too frequently. This happens at all levels, but primarily when someone, for whatever reason, has gained some kind of prestige or authority over others.

It is common to find individuals who previously showed reasonable behaviour and yet their common sense seems to fail them when placed in positions that infer prominence over others. The main reason is usually insecurity. The less sure someone is of whether their decisions are right, the more likely they are to dress themselves up to offset the missing attitudes or skills required for good governance.

If this is swiftly channelled, then this tendency will be nipped in the bud. Unfortunately, it is common for middle managers to develop a childish pomposity that marks the onset of distancing from the rest of their colleagues. Increased indecision is often followed by inflexibility or vehemence when dealing with others. This is how a vicious circle sets in; some feel they know all that is humanly or divinely real, only because someone chose them to take over the helm of a department—perhaps by mistake or simply because there was nobody else who was less inept.

The foolish path leading to arrogance is taken by those who think that the world—or at least, their organization—only moved into the spotlight when they came onto the scene. With a tendency to immediately to underrate other people’s efforts and to focus the conversation on successful achievements, I have come to call such people, the showbiz-style manager.

A hyper ego that has spread its wings unrestrainedly and unchecked, first of all leads to estrangement, mostly among those who do not bow or surrender to this inanity, not even hypocritically. Furthermore, this tends to be continuously fed by those familiar with their superior’s weakness through their ill-advised praise. This sets into motion a giddying vicious circle in which whoever is in charge is increasingly convinced that his modus operandi—more often not senseless—is the root of collective success. All because those around the manager mock him implicitly or explicitly singing unbridled praises.

Some managers behave like rather immature youngsters, full of insolence and constantly urgent whims.

Overcoming this petulant blindness is not simple, as it demands a virtue that’s difficult to embody; one that is called humility. Much has been written on this virtue by the best chronicler of all times, Truth. .

To escape from boastfulness is difficult, because once someone is entrenched in the personal or collective conviction of the unshakeable basis of his decisions, then fleeing from fanaticism does not become so obvious. Such is the blindness causing the indifference, the least of which is the banner he follows as opposed to the unswervingly pig-headed way he does this. He immediately passes the blame to the others for bad outcomes, obstacles, lack of communication... Everything else before acknowledging a well-rendered transformation always begins with oneself.

When an entrepreneur or manager with just a few years of market presence proclaims his desire to become the global point of reference for a sector, in reality he shows lack of common sense. He can bark all he likes, yet without a solid basis, he can never build something consistent.

Javier Fernández Aguado

Javier Fernández Aguado es pensador y speaker; considerado uno de los mayores expertos contemporáneos en Gobierno de personas y organizaciones, además de ser uno de los conferenciantes más solicitados a nivel internacional. Es es Director de MindValue, firma especializada en servicios profesionales para la Alta Dirección, miembro del Top Ten Management Spain y Premio Peter Druker.

Javier Fernández Aguado is a thinker and speaker, considered one of the leading contemporary experts in managing people and organizations, as well as being one of the most sought after speakers internationally. He is a Director of MindValue—a company specialized in professional services for C-level management, a member of Top Ten Management Spain and the Peter Drucker Award.

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