Principle Strategic and Management Essay

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E x Ecu ti vE Hu br is

How To Check Your Ego and Avoid Ruining Your Company and Your Career
By Mathew Hayward

No 33.06

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1. CHeCkIng Our egOS IS nOt an OptIOnal e xtr a fOr prOfeSSIOnal and perSOnal SuCCeSS.
If you are going to have a successful career and life, you are also going to have to learn how to check your ego. don’t take it from me. Instead, heed the wisdom of successful executives which I lay out in my book, Ego Check. Warren Buffett is the most successful investor of our time. Buffett openly accepts that the worst decision he ever made was to invest in the uS airline industry. Why did he make this terrible mistake? “I was neither pushed into the investment nor misled by anyone when making it. rather this was a case of sloppy analysis, a lapse that may have been caused by...hubris,” said Buffett. Jack Welch was arguably the most successful manager of the 20th century, overseeing an increase of $400 billion in market capitalization at general electric over twenty years. ask him about the worst decision he ever made, and he will tell you that it was to buy the investment bank, kidder peabody. What went wrong? “I got too full of myself,” says Welch, who believed that he could integrate kidder’s investment banking mercenaries into ge. know also that his most trusted advisors had told him that he was kidding himself and had pleaded with him to call the deal off. perhaps you think that an out of control ego only applies to CeOs. nothing could be further from the truth. look for ace college graduates who have just joined your firm. I will wager that many of them have let their collegiate success get to their heads and that they just can’t understand why they’re under-appreciated or worse. Hear the complaints of middle-level executives that the rug has been pulled from under them as they try to pursue projects when, in truth, they have misread the political realities of their jobs. Out of control egos extend far beyond business, to doctors who fail to get second opinions and let their patients suffer at the hands of elective surgery, to highly talented professionals who overestimate their investing capabilities.

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Hubris is so pervasive because we have to be supremely confident to be successful in business and life; and the line that separates supreme confidence from an out of control ego is razor thin and can be crossed in an instant. any sales person who is not 100% confident about winning a prized customer risks losing the customer to a competitor. there is wisdom in the cliché which is variously attributed to Henry ford and Mary kay ash, “If you think you can, you can. and if you think you can’t, you’re right”. the danger is that as we become more successful, we become ever more vulnerable to hubris. It’s not as though we haven’t been warned. the ancient greeks told us that hubris will be man’s cardinal sin. But that did not stop British prime Minister george grenville from overestimating his ability to tax the american colonies; it did not stop napoleon from trying to conquer russia; and it did not stop Hitler from invading poland. and today we have to question whether hubris is alive and well in the White House. remember, hubris will needlessly damage your career and company unless you take a stand. take hubris out of your decisions and actions. after all, hubris is not the result of a defective personality, it results from the false confidence that induces defective decision making.

Ego Check has been written to outline those false sources of confidence; and to outline what they mean for checking our egos.

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2. knOW tHe falSe SOurCeS Of COnfIdenCe tHat drIve HuBrIS, aHe ad Of tIMe. fundamentally, hubris arises when we misread ourselves and our situation. It’s the result of four incredibly pervasive dynamics. A. Getting too full of ourselves. as Jack…