I clicked onto Amazon this afternoon to make sure they had restocked the book, and found a marvelous review from John Pearson of John Pearson Associates, and author of Mastering the Management Buckets.
John is so right – ego is something leaders almost have to evaluate in private in order to transparently consider how their leadership and decision making is influenced by their ego needs.
I love the idea of an online assessment that leaders could take in private. Maybe that could be done in a way to help leaders burst this bubble of ego.
Here is what John had to say in his review.
“Ego is a megaphone that is always obnoxious,” warns Roger Parrott. His book is filled with poignant insights like that one. His second chapter, “Deflate Your Ego to Expand Your Influence,” is remarkably fresh and convicting.
When is the last time (or the first time), you’ve voluntarily read a chapter about keeping your ego in check? Parrott, the president of Belhaven College, Jackson, Miss., since 1995, must struggle–like all college presidents, mega-church pastors, CEOs and senior leaders–to downplay his own role and showcase the roles of others.
The author offers “a portrait of the showmen” with the compilation of 14 traits, along with brief commentaries, he’s observed in ego-driven leaders. They include:
1. Live Flamboyantly
2. Inflate Vision
3. Act Invincible
4. Ignore Critics
5. Crave Adrenaline
6. Exaggerate Actions
7. Become Sensitive
8. Attract Groupies
9. Demand Appreciation
10. Require Empathy
11. Listen Poorly
12. Enjoy Competition
13. Control Obsessively
14. Ignore Boundaries
Commenting on the trait of leaders who exaggerate actions, he notes: “These leaders move in wide, sweeping motions that take up space wherever they might be. They don’t do anything simply, but every action is so exaggerated that the staff around them is exhausted, rather that equipped, by their leadership.”
After reading these 14 traits to my wife, Joanne, I gave her my brilliant idea: create an online “Ego Assessment for Leaders” and encourage my clients and other CEOs to do a 360 survey with their board members, their direct reports and their own self-assessments. Joanne’s response: “Yeah, John. After you are willing to do that!”
Parrott has 13 more chapters including: “Planning Will Drain the Life From Your Ministry” and “Preempting the Stickiest Challenge of Long-Term Leadership.” The latter focuses on conflicts of interest–a rare and practical look at this leadership stumbling block. This college president’s style reminds me a bit of USC President Steven Sample’s book, The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership (J-B Warren Bennis Series).
You’ll get your money’s worth from this book in savvy corner office wisdom. Like this from chapter three, “Applause Lasts for a Moment, but Leadership is for a Lifetime.” He writes, “…bad news must be announced, or the gossip and speculation will run far ahead of the facts.” Instead of letting bad news leak out, Parrott is pro-active. “I don’t bring my entire employee base together lightly, because I figure it costs us about $10,000 an hour in wages when we gather, but the cost of not meeting during a time of bad news is much higher. Without the full story, coworkers become fearful, assumptions run rampant, and energy is drained by the uncertainty. Leaders may have learned to live comfortably with a high level of ambiguity, but others have not.