Clicky

Thursday, June 07, 2020

Beware! Ever more egotists are at large . . . and they're dangerous

Egotism has always been common amongst leaders. Now, thanks largely to growing acceptance, it’s becoming an epidemic.

One of the the more malign impacts of today’s macho, fast-paced leadership style is the spread of unchecked egotism. Thanks to the media, with their sanctification of people such as Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, egotism is in danger of becoming not just acceptable but even “cool.” Does that matter? Yes, it does, because being involved with others, and interested in their welfare as well as your own, is the basis for both an ethical outlook and a commitment to honesty. More egotists mean less concern for anyone else, and that makes exploitation, dishonesty, and callousness more common.
Macho types have no time to get involved with people, save as useful “networking contacts,” to be exploited for their own benefit. Exploiting others to serve their own advancement seems quite logical and is done with no sense of shame. Indeed, like all egotists, they have no real interest in dealing with most other people at all, beyond the minimum needed to get the job done. They aren’t interested in anyone else’s problems, because they aren’t involved. Nothing is important, save what relates to them personally, and the people they want to impress or use in some way.

Of course, we are all guilty of egotism at times. It’s natural to be more interested in your own needs than the needs of others, at least for some of the time. What becomes unnatural—even dangerous—is the viewpoint that dismisses anything and anyone as important only insofar as it conveys some direct benefit to you.

How do many of today’s executives sleep easy, having deprived others of their jobs to boost short-term profits (and their own stock options)? How do they find it so easy to justify cost-cutting decisions that have no other purpose than to please Wall Street? They are mostly dedicated egotists, and as such they aren’t much involved in anyone else’s world. So it’s easy to minimize or disregard those consequences of their actions that fall on others. They don’t feel for the people whom they use or misuse, because they’ve forgotten that they’re dealing with fellow human beings. In the rush and hurry to satisfy their own needs and ambitions, other people seem more like machines or objects—sometimes useful, more often an irritant or a distraction.

Speed, macho beliefs, and egotism are incompatible with empathy. Egotists have no time or interest in recalling what it feels like to have someone dump their frustration and annoyance on you, just because you didn’t do exactly what they wanted when and how they wanted it. No time to remember that the other guy wants a stable job and a good income, just as they do. The higher and faster the high-fliers go, the more the world gets split into them (the important part, with so many things to do) and others (the unimportant elements that get in the way and have to be pushed, cajoled, or coerced into doing whatever they want for as little outlay of time, money, or attention as possible). As a non-participant in anything but their own concerns, these Hamburger Managers have no need for courtesy, politeness, ethics, or patience—and no time for anyone save themselves.

Human life—real, valuable, joyful human life—is all about participation. We are all part of the same world, intimately connected, however much some people want to keep others out. If you have no time to participate in this shared world, you have no time to live. If you cannot spare the time to help or empathize with others, why should they give you support and understanding when you need it most? You’re the person who ruined their day with your imperious demands, or walked right past them with your mind fixed on the next item on your agenda, or sent them the pink slip.

All our joys and triumphs are greater when shared. Our griefs are lessened by others’ sympathy and understanding. We cannot opt out of links with others and remain fully human. Those who do, even just mentally, lose their humanity and become capable of every kind of cruelty and dishonesty. Look at just about any dictator you care to mention, past or present.

Without any sense of obligation to our fellows, there’s no basis for behaving ethically or honestly. Sure, you might get caught, but it’s easy to ignore that possibility when the rewards of screwing over everyone else for your own ends are so obvious. When you divide other people into two simple classes, those who matter because they can help you advance, and all the rest, you will have no shortage of supposedly unimportant people whom you can cheat, exploit, harass, or bully at will. If the behavior of some bosses is little short of disgusting, it’s mostly because they feel neither shame nor concern at what they do—and nor, it seems, do many of their superiors.

Do we want to live in a world where politeness, gratitude, understanding, honesty, ethical dealing, and patience have become extinct? Where everyone is locked into their own bubble of petty concerns and nobody cares about anything else? Where rising to the top in career and financial terms means opting out of involvement in “unproductive” activities like friendship, helping others, and just taking time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world itself?

Slow Leadership isn’t just about creating civilized workplaces. It’s part of a wider need to create a more civilized world for everyone, free from the jerks and assholes whose egos are bigger than their brains.

Recommended reading: The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, by Bob Sutton.



Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon
Sign up for our Email Newsletter




Labels: , , ,

Add to Technorati Favorites Stumble Upon Toolbar

5 Comments:

Eclecticity said...

Sociopaths ARE dangerous too! Sounds like your egoist has the same modus operendi at a sociopath.

Ever read "The Sociopath Next Door" I think the author says about 4 in 100 have no conscience.

Your thinking and your blog is great. I recommend it a lot to people most able to relate. Keep up the great work. DF

1:44 PM  
David Zinger said...

Slow Leadership just seem to get better and better. I hope you plan to put this into a book so that it reaches a wider audience who have yet to discover the delight of blogs. Thank you for your thoughtful, insightful, and "right"-on posts!

3:09 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

My thanks to you both, DF and David, for your kind words.

Keep reading, my friends.

3:13 PM  
Don Frederiksen said...

I appreciate the insight. Your thoughts are very consistent with my thoughts on Quiet Leadership at www.leadquietly.com.

I'm looking forward to reading more blogs.

Thanks

6:49 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks, Don.

I hope people will take a look at your blog. I did, and enjoyed what I read there.

Keep reading, my friend.

10:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.