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Posted by: Diane Brady on August 15, 2007

You have to pay attention when Stephen Covey calls a book “brilliant and vitally important.” (Then again, has anyone ever tracked how many book blurbs he has written?)

Even so, I found myself enjoying “egonomics: what makes ego our greatest asset (or most expensive liability)” … For one thing, it reinforces the overwhelming presence of ego in business these days. I touched on an aspect of this in a piece in our current double issue on creating ‘brand you’.

Authors David Marcum and Steven Smith look at ego as a delicate dance — where you balance your incredibly high opinion of yourself with extreme humility. They call it “Level 5” leadership. In my experience, ego works in a leader when it’s balanced with extreme curiosity. Sure, they think they’re the smartest person in the room but they’re constantly looking for ways and people to make themselves smarter. Ego does them in when they presume everyone else is a dummy and they’re incapable of losing.

Reader Comments


August 20, 2007 10:34 AM

What ever happened to just being yourself. You know, like acting with integrity, fairness, and intelligence. Egos should be left to psychologists not businesspeople. Lately I find fewer and fewer business books worthy of their weight in paper.

mathew hayward

September 4, 2007 9:38 PM

Please be a little self-reflective. Was level 5 leadership coined by these authors or by Jim Collins in 'Good to Great'. Why do you speak of the 'delicate dance', when the true challenge is to know HOW to stay supremely confident in business without developing an out-of-control ego? Why do you make unsupported assertions like the ned to balance 'ego with curiosity' when there is a vast literature in behavioral decision theory on the antecedents and consequences of overconfidence? When you say that 'ego does them in when they presume everyone else is a dummy' are you dealing with high school cliches or thoughtful observations that can be supported by hard evidence?

Paper Planner

January 9, 2008 5:03 PM

What could be more important in a business book than how to deal with egos? Business is the perfect playground for discovering yourself and how to work with others. Egos drive a person to achieve; however, an ego left unchecked will drive everyone away.

People are attracted to strong leaders, and one of the attributes of a strong leader is a healthy ego.

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